In industrial environments, downtime can cause a lot of financial damage. In hospitals, however, it can be a matter of life and death. Groupe Jolimont is the largest health group in Wallonia. As a longtime partner, Prodata Systems has gradually improved their network architecture. Today, the hospital group has a future-proof, self-driving and secure network. They can manage everything with a small team, enabling all sites to focus on what is really important: providing healthcare.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away – or in this case, a well secured network architecture. Instead of waiting for an incident, it is better to install a solution that prevents major problems. Especially with the very complex structure of Groupe Jolimont. It started around 140 years ago as a small infirmary for the coal miners of La Louviere. By now, it has become the largest health group in the southern part of Belgium. It includes more than 5.500 employees and physicians, 6 hospital sites (1.311 licensed beds), 7 retirement and care homes (653 licensed beds), but also day centers, service flats,child day-care centers, after school facilities, mental health institutions and a rehab clinic.
No wonder that the local ICT team finds it challenging to service all these different sites of the group. Moreover, the importance of Wi-Fi in hospitals is increasing, also for telephony. As most facilities of Groupe Jolimont must be operational 24/7, they need a network that is robust, fully redundant, performing and, above all, secure. Prodata Systems has been a been a partner of the group since 2012. Understanding the complex requirements of the hospitals, the network has seen a series of important modifications over the past years. Today, all ICT is managed centrally from a new data center at the site in Jolimont. No less than 35 sites are already connected, with 2 more to join in the future. So, how did they get access to a future-proof network that requires minimal effort from the group’s ICT team?
"Thanks to the joint efforts of Prodata Systems and Extreme Networks, we have a
future-proof solution in place."
First, the entire LAN infrastructure has been renewed to support the integration of all hospitals and institutions. The network access control functionality has also been activated to secure the access to all LAN channels. For the renewal of the wireless network, Prodata Systems introduced Extreme Networks as a provider. The availability of the network was one of the most important requirements. Users – being doctors, nursing staff or patients – want applications that work perfectly. The solution Extreme Fabric Connect aims to simplify network management as much as possible. The fabric allows Groupe Jolimont to manage the network with a small team. For example, they can now easily stretch the VLAN from one site to another and manage the routing – point to point – on the network itself. “In the previous configuration, we always relied on an external partner for this type of interventions”, explains Paul Tassin, responsible for the ICT infrastructure at Groupe Jolimont. Once the fabric had been implemented and the core switches in the data center had been replaced, the focus shifted to WLAN. Extreme Networks supplied all Wi-Fi antennas and controllers. “We started the roll-out in the hospitals and are now systematically expanding the trajectory to the retirement homes.”
Since Groupe Jolimont only has limited resources and a small ICT team, Prodata Systems decided to automate as much as possible. For this, Extreme Networks XMC has been essential. It manages the entire auto-configuration of users and their devices on the network, both wired and via Wi-Fi. “When the hospital admits a patient for an operation, for example, the system registers how many days that patient will stay. Through integration XMC automatically knows on which days the patient needs access to the Wi-Fi network. It no longer involves a manual configuration”, says Paul Tassin. This also means that the service desk can now focus on more important matters than routine jobs. Finally, Prodata Systems has also secured external access to the network with the introduction of Check Point. As an experienced partner, Prodata understands that Check Point has the best solutions on the market, adapted to new challenges such as IoT devices and cloud computing. This migration has been finalized at the end of 2020. It guarantees the security of internet access, the connection with suppliers, and all traffic coming from different sites.
Groupe Jolimont now has a network architecture that gives them security and flexibility to ensure the continuity of all operations in the hospitals and other institutions. Whenever they need new services or applications, they can also configure everything themselves without the interference of an external provider or third-party supplier. Other important benefits are 25% cost reduction and reduced latency. Patrick Tissot, Services Director at Prodata Systems, believes the great partnership with Groupe Jolimont was a key factor for the success of the solution: “We have a long history together. Regular visits, almost on a weekly basis, allow us to really understand the needs of the group. We knew how important it was for them to manage everything with a limited number of resources and ICT staff. This is why automation has been a major focus point over the past years. As their operations are rather complex, it is essential to have a partner with expertise to bring the right players and solutions to the table.” A lot has changed since the time of that small infirmary for coal miners. Moreover, the group is still expanding. Three new hospitals will soon emerge in La Louviere, Mons and Nivelles. This will have a major impact on the network of Groupe Jolimont, but they are well-prepared to tackle all challenges. “Thanks to the joint efforts of Prodata Systems and Extreme Networks, we have a future-proof solution in place”, concludes Paul Tassin.
"This also means that the service desk can now focus on more important matters than
Groupe Jolimont Hospital Wallonia
Secure network access
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