Austrian childhood cancer centre discovers 3Com's "Pay as You Grow" approach to network expansion

Munich 22 November 2002St. Anna Children's Hospital in Vienna, Austria, one of Europe's major centres for research into childhood cancers, is the latest organisation to secure a productive and cost-effective future for its technology infrastructure by opting for 3Com's "pay as you grow" approach to building its LAN core. Using a combination of 3Com Gigabit Ethernet switches and XRN technology, St. Anna Hospital will be able to set its ambitious development strategy in motion, confident that it has the technology and the necessary budget to fulfil all its objectives including the addition of a new research unit in 2005.


Used in conjunction with XRN technology, when available later this year, the Switch 4060 allows two Gigabit switches to function as a single high-performance, high-availability distributed switching fabric at the core of the network. St. Anna Hospital will find that expanding the network is a simple and affordable process that can be undertaken whenever necessary without compromising performance or increasing network complexity.

As the first step in its redevelopment programme, St. Anna Hospital has deployed the 3Com Switch 4060 to create a new core network that has made an immediate impact on performance and availability. According to Johann Kahls, head of St. Anna Hospital's IT department, the 3Com solution meets the hospital's requirement for excellent technology with long-term economy.

"The 3Com solution is far more cost-effective over the longer term than competitive solutions, as well as offering a wider range of sophisticated functionality and, crucially, the XRN technology's pay as you grow proposition", stated Johann Kalhs. "By investing in a 3Com XRN solution, St. Anna Hospital will be able to avoid the technology and financial hurdles it had expected in order to ensure that our communications infrastructure keeps pace with changes in the organisation."

XRN technology offers the rich functionality, scalability and high-availability of a premium chassis solution within a cost structure that will allow St. Anna Children's Hospital to optimise its technology budget. The scalability of XRN technology means that extra units need only be deployed when necessary, reducing upfront expenditure at the same time as providing a manageable upgrade path.

Johann Kahls recalled that it was partly the extraordinary amount of data traffic on the network that made a complete rebuild inevitable. The previous network struggled to handle data in excess of half a terabyte, which ran continuously over 300 nodes in the network. In addition, the short copper-based transmission lines between the hospital's three 160 year-old buildings caused expensive network breakdowns.

The new backbone now delivers bandwidth of between 100 Mbit/s and 1 Gbit/s at each node. In order to protect sensitive data, the hospital is installing three independent Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs). One VLAN is for patient information, the second for hospital management activities while the third VLAN supports communication with other hospitals.

"Installing the new 3Com backbone took only minutes due to the plug-and-play capabilities of the Switch 4060. To date, we're extremely pleased with the 3Com network which has performed well and without any problems whatsoever", concluded Johann Kalhs. At the point when network expansion becomes necessary, St Anna Children's Hospital plans to use the 3Com Interconnect Kit to link two of the XRN technology-ready 3Com Switch 4060 units together in a single "distributed switching fabric".

The two switches will be connected via a serial line and operate as a single, complete unit with a shared IP-address. The two switches will be connected individually to the hospital's servers. Links to power distribution sources would also be kept separate by using two different lines. By taking these precautions, the hospital will benefit from an unbroken service even if one switch fails. Should a failure occur, the second switch would transfer the data transparently and without delay.

The St. Anna Children's Hospital was founded by Dr. Ludwig Wilhelm Mauthner in 1837. It was amongst the first children's hospitals in Austria. Today, in addition to providing a 160-plus bed children's hospital, St. Anna's centre for paediatrics and adolescent medicine has a worldwide reputation for the treatment of children with blood disorders and cancer. The hospital has around 360 members of staff, including some 50 doctors and 160 nurses. Patients and their families also receive support from psychologists and psychotherapists.

3Com is a tier-one provider of innovative, practical and high-value networking products for enterprise customers. 3Com is also specialised in Internet protocol (IP) service platforms and access infrastructure for the network service provider market. More news on the company is available in the VMW March 2002 article 3Com and Computer 2000 to provide British National Health Service with feature-rich networking solutions.

Leslie Versweyveld

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