OIT Adds Locations to the Fiber Network

May 31, 2012

map of ringThe OIT Architecture group recently added the Johns Creek and St. Joseph's hospitals, the Perimeter location of The Emory Clinic (875 Johnson Ferry Rd), and the new combined Emory Hospitals Patient Financial Services Team office at 235 Peachtree St (Peachtree Center). This brings the two new hospitals onto the fiber network, offering very high speed data connectivity, upgraded and duplicated links to the Perimeter Clinic and high speed secure connectivity for the PFS team.

When Emory Healthcare began discussions with St. Joseph's about becoming part of the Emory Healthcare umbrella, members of the Architecture team recognized that extending the fiber network to include Johns Creek and the Perimeter clinic might finally be financially feasible with the St. Joseph's acquisition providing the critical mass.

A major drawback to adding Johns Creek to the network has always been the distance and associated costs to reach the facility. By designing a linear addition and adding St. Joseph's and the Perimeter Clinic, Emory was able to take advantage of existing vendor fiber backbones passing by all three facilities. The design called for a fiber pair leaving the Emory Midtown facility, going up to Johns Creek, coming back down to St. Joseph's with a spur over to the Perimeter Clinic, and continuing to the North Decatur Building on the main campus. This route was able to provide the desired redundancy. However, to reach these locations would require a fiber route of 90 miles total with a single hop from Midtown to Johns Creek of 50 miles!

To provide the degree of redundancy required to support these critical locations, each is fed from the core routers at Midtown and NDB. One 10G circuit each leaves Midtown for Johns Creek and St. Joe with the other 10G circuits leaving from NDB. Since the Perimeter clinic does not have the same requirements as a hospital, it is fed by two 1G circuits – one each from Midtown and NDB. Additionally, there is no DWDM equipment at Perimeter. It is fed via dark fiber from St. Joseph's.

The DWDM team of Norman Butler, David Topper and Perry Eidson felt that with the experience gained from the recently completed main fiber ring equipment refresh, all installation and commissioning could be handled in house. Due to the total cost of the multi-year fiber contract, the University Board of Trustees had to approve the project. When provided with the cost analysis showing a competitive cost with out-sourced comparable circuits, they gave their approval and the team began work. Equipment was installed, fiber connected and circuits turned up to the new data switches installed by the Network Engineering group. Services to the locations were cut-over with no issues.

While this project was underway, Billy Tice (OIT Project Management Office) came to the team with a new requirement for connectivity to a new location slated to house the Patient Financial Teams for all of the hospital entities. 235 Peachtree St was the location chosen. The DWDM team looked at several options and ultimately chose dark fiber from a new provider. The new provider offered a very competitive price and provided a second vendor offering competition for our fiber network.

As the maximum working distance for standard LX interfaces on data equipment is approximately 10K meters, the team felt that dark fiber from the 56 Marietta telecom hotel/interface location would work. Due to requirements for contract signing and a hard deadline for service installation, this project was compressed from both ends. Exacerbating the problem was a construction moratorium in downtown Atlanta from Thanksgiving through January 1.

While waiting for the fiber construction to be completed, the team worked with Engineering to extend 1G circuits from Cox Hall and NDB in a redundant manner to 56 Marietta. Connectivity was completed about 2:30 a.m. on a Friday before the move commencing on Saturday. Joe Johnson of the Emory Infrastructure team had everything preconfigured and when the fiber connection was established, the circuits came up with no problems.

The final distance following a somewhat circuitous route through downtown Atlanta was 4.4K meters, well within the specifications. These circuits provide all voice and data connectivity for this location, enabling the PFS teams to serve their customers. Pre-registration and Medical Records are also moving or have been moved to this space. Healthcare management personnel anticipate in excess of 350 people at this location providing consolidated, cost effective patient services.

These two projects provide cost effective, secure and highly available connectivity to very important Emory locations. By using experience gained in installation and configuration of the DWDM gear, the DWDM team was able to meet the time line constraints while controlling vendor costs. The end result is much improved connectivity and satisfied customers.

- Perry Eidson, Communication Architect, OIT Infrastructure

For additional information on this or any other Emory OIT service, please contact the
University Service Desk at 404-727-7777, Monday - Friday 7 am - 6 pm.