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Cancer Center gets help from AT&T Network on Demand

Austin, Texas, Cancer Center uses AT&T's Network on Demand to get tumor diagnoses to patients faster.

Anxiety in cancer patients can increase pain, reduce sleep and lower the chances of surviving the deadly disease. So reducing patient stress is crucial at the Austin, Texas, Cancer Center.

Last year, the center decided to lessen the time for getting tumor diagnoses to anxious patients. To do that, the center had to first have AT&T run an optical fiber cable to the building where patients have pictures of their tumors taken with a PET/CT body scanner.

Once the cable was in, the center focused on the rest of the problem -- increasing the bandwidth used to send 1 GB-plus tumor images across town to radiologists at one of the center's hospital partners. For that chore, the center's IT staff simply logged into AT&T's Network on Demand portal and moved a slider from 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps.

"From a customer perspective, it's completely changed the way that we manage all of our WAN connections," said Jason Lindgren, CIO at the center.

AT&T launched Network on Demand in Austin two years ago and has since rolled it out to dozens of U.S. cities. The service stems from the network operator's adoption of software-defined networking to reduce the time it takes to deliver services. The product lets customers order, provision and change WAN services in days, and sometimes minutes.

Austin Cancer Center's use of Network on Demand is an example of how one organization has taken advantage of a service that redefines how customers interact with AT&T.

Bandwidth provisioning simplified

In the past, increasing bandwidth required calling an AT&T rep, discussing what was needed and then negotiating the cost and contract terms, Lindgren said. With Network on Demand, all the configuration options and pricing are on the portal.

From a customer perspective, it's completely changed the way that we manage all of our WAN connections.
Jason LindgrenCIO, Austin Cancer Center

"The entire ordering process is greatly simplified," Lindgren said.

The service let the cancer center immediately send tumor images to radiologists, rather than stack them in a queue and move them overnight when network traffic is its lowest. By eliminating the hours images would sit in the queue, the center could get diagnoses to patients much faster.

Cancer Center's next step

The center's next use of AT&T's service will come later in the year when the group moves the applications, patient records, and other digital assets of its 12 facilities in the Austin area from a hospital partner to a new data center. Located in the center's headquarters, the new facility will house the group's Dell serversAdtran routers, Fortinet Inc. firewall appliances and the ShoreTel voice over IP system.

To make the move in a reasonable amount of time, Lindgren plans to temporarily raise the bandwidth between the two facilities from 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps. The project marks the first time the center will increase bandwidth just long enough to complete a job, and then bring it back down to its original level.

Paying for bandwidth on an as-needed basis is one of the Network on Demand services touted by AT&T and most important to the center. "I want to increase my cost just long enough to make the move," Lindgren said.

Lindgren's success has persuaded him to use other Network on Demand services, as they are added by AT&T. Enthusiasm like Lindgren's is what AT&T is hoping for, and if other customers feel the same, then the service could have a bright future

Next Steps

Private WAN provisioning in the on-demand era

Simplifying network service chain provisioning

Scaling up the data center to meet computing demands

Dig Deeper on Network management and monitoring

Unified Communications
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Data Center