Health information network provider Availity will upgrade to a Juniper QFabric architecture in its data centers over the next year as part of a broad network infrastructure upgrade with Juniper Networks.
Trent Gavazzi, senior vice president and CTO for the Jacksonville, Fla.-based company, declined to offer many specifics about the deployment due to security concerns, but he said the QFabric technology will be installed in both Availity's primary and redundant data centers.
Although the company will phase in the full Juniper QFabric architecture over time, it has gone into production with a new Juniper network, which involves elements of the QFabric product line, Juniper's EX switches and MX routers, and its SRX and vGW security products. The vendor has said in the past that many of its customers migrate to the full Juniper QFabric architecture over time. They start with the QFX 3500 top-of-rack switches in a traditional LAN architecture, and then add the interconnect chassis and management appliance later. Gavazzi said Availity is using the QFX 3500 devices as top-of-rack switches and plans to redeploy them as nodes on a full QFabric architecture later.
"It's going to be a two-step process over the next 12 to 14 months," Gavazzi said. "It's a question of how much change we're willing to force on the production platform at any given time while we're incorporating the new architecture."
The two-phase Juniper upgrade will replace a heterogeneous, legacy network that grew in fits and starts over the last dozen years.
"You're growing as fast as you can, and you're trying to make payroll and please your customers, and you wake up one day and realize that to take it to the next level you just need a new and significant investment to the network," Gavazzi said. "[QFabric] is going to allow us to scale incrementally, [as opposed to] when you're dealing with a legacy network that didn't go through the planning that we've gone through with this investment. We're reducing the number of devices, which means a lot less maintenance, and we've had time to plan and architect in such a way that we can grow the network as the business needs while keeping it secure."
The new Juniper network will help Availity process two billion health care business transactions annually. When asked what kind of load that puts on his infrastructure, Gavazzi said: "It depends on the transaction type. At certain times of day, it puts a tremendous load on our network. Our investments are all geared toward being able to accommodate an expandable network that can allow us to apply capacity on demand at the times of day when it's most needed."
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