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"eHealth Project" for the Wielkopolska Region: safe data transmission for 23 health care facilities


In early 2015, the Wielkopolska Region Government resolved to initiate a public contract award procedure for the supply and installation of corporate data transmission infrastructure for 23 health care facilities in the Wielkopolska Region. The successful contractors were VOL Sp. z o.o. sp. k. and INEA S.A. The awarded solutions used Extreme Networks and Fortinet products.

The contract award procedure, organised by the Marshal Office of the Wielkopolska Region under the name "Secure broadband data transmission service for data exchange between health care entities governed by the Parliament of the Wielkopolska Region and the Marshal Office of the Wielkopolska Region" covered the supply, layout and installation of data transmission infrastructure, with configuration and implementation of the data transmission corporate service. An additional item of the offering was management services for the data transmission infrastructure supplied for the project.

High requirements for network capacity

The design was prepared and developed by the Marshal Office of the Wielkopolska Region, with the primary assumption for the corporate data transmission infrastructure being to enable efficient and secure data exchange between its subordinated health care entities and the Office, as well as efficient external connectivity (Internet). The data exchange efficiency provides, for each entity covered by the project scope, symmetrical transmission channels with 100 Mb/s in capacity, scalable to 1 Gb/s, and external connectivity (Internet) over two concurrent channels with the capacity of 100 Mb/s. Internal links support corporate traffic engineering.

The project concept further assumed that the established infrastructure must have a mechanism ensuring its high availability, which is delivered by an extra, dedicated duplex link with the capacity of at least 10 Gb/s each way between selected entities covered by the project scope, so-called leading entities, playing the role of the project's technical leaders. The high-availability link also supports network traffic engineering in external relations and interacts with corporate traffic engineering in that respect.

The corporate connectivity security is ensured by internal profiling and network traffic protection in the internal (corporate) and external (Internet) exchange channels and by infrastructure resources access management. An important item of the project concept is the retention of the autonomy of local IT environments operated by entities covered by the project and using the corporate network, and the Internet provided over that network.

An important assumption for the project was to solicit a solution to digitise and automate data transmission between Medical Emergency Teams and entities running Hospital Emergency Units. The solution is embodied in mobile data transmission nodes in medical emergency vehicles, supporting dynamically established virtual private network (dVPN) channels, with network protection in those channels.

Extreme Networks and Fortinet solutions in the medical emergency network

Installation of solutions from a number of leading manufacturers was considered during preparation to the contract award procedure. The project was carried out with Extreme Network solutions for data transmission (switches, controllers, wireless connection access points), and Fortinet for network traffic profiling and protection (firewalls). Those solutions were proposed in a bid that was awarded in the public contract award procedure. Both companies are leaders in the network solutions and security sector.

Solutions from those manufacturer best matched the interoperability requirements provided for in the contract specification, ensuring reliable and uninterrupted daily work. Their high quality and functional excellence were considered as most favourable in the equipment selection process. It should also be emphasised that an important case in favour of both manufacturers' solutions is the support of firewall resources virtualisation, and thus the option to virtualise some of the implemented security tasks, and ensure the expected autonomy for local IT environments run by entities covered by the project.

Solution for many years to come

"You cannot underestimate the efficiency and scalability of Extreme Networks Summit and Fortinet FortiGate equipment parameters, which helped us find an optimum match between the solution and our needs. It is about the connection level between local IT environments and the corporate network, high-availability connectivity for the regional/corporate environment, as well as mobile connectivity" - says Tomasz Kokowski, Contract Engineer representing the Marshal Office of the Wielkopolska Region in the project.

"Dynamic setup of communication channels for Medical Emergency Teams is an innovation overcoming the barrier between emergency teams and hospital emergency wards that appeared insurmountable at first. Data from ambulances reached the hospital emergency units in hard copy format. Our concept utilised elements available on the market, showing that you don't really need speciality solutions here. All it takes is to connect them, which is done by the access point with a firewall integrated just like in the FortiGate 30D device offered: Wi-Fi over a mobile firewall to the access point" - he adds.

With such extensive infrastructure, developed in various configurations for integration with local ICT environments of the respective entities covered by the project, the key factor was a contractor with excellent skills. VOL of Poznań lived up to the required standard, providing top-class experts, contributing to speedy and seamless implementation and commissioning.

"The implemented Extreme Networks and Fortinet solutions work just as Marshal Office of the Wielkopolska Region required. The developed infrastructure attains the project objectives and meets all current needs of corporate data transmission between health care entities covered by its scope, whilst maintaining a sound margin for a effective and speedy response to changes. The devices and solutions will definitely become part and parcel of local data transmission infrastructures of those entities, and will support their operations for 5 years as a minimum" - emphasises Tomasz Kokowski.

Smooth implementation by an expert contractor

„eHealth Project” for the Wielkopolska Region was a formidable challenge for us due to the project's short time frame and the number of health care entities to be broadband-connected with a secure corporate data transmission service. Instrumental in the success of such projects is the pre-implementation analysis and implementation plan that considers risks identified in the respective areas, as well as change management. We dedicated time and effort to thoroughly prepare the analysis and in effect the implementation work proceeded according to the schedule" - recalls Rafał Gębala, President of the Management Board of VOL.

"When working to a very tight implementation schedule, as was the case with this project, providing for only 6 months for the implementation, from May to September 2015, proper management and monitoring of the individual tasks by a suitably experienced project manager is of critical importance. This is the foundation of success. Projects developed by VOL are always managed by highly experienced and qualified managers. Such an approach, and having such staff on board, is one of our most valuable assets and a factor in the competitive advantage on the market. Obviously, what also counts is commitment and creative, can-do approach to implementation, competence of the entire team responsible for the final success, and experience of delivering similar projects" - he adds.

This successful implementation is an excellent example of how a specialised integrator is able to harness the potential of a technology. "Fortinet solutions have already made their name in a very demanding Polish health care sector". Regardless, it is precisely certified partners who make them reach way beyond standard Internet interface protection in projects. Among successfully implemented projects are those on two-component authentication, Internet application protection, or encrypted electronic mail system setup and protection" – comments Grzegorz Szałański, Fortinet Product Manager at Veracomp SA.

Security and monitoring of transmitted data

The LAN network data transmission solution by Extreme Network, selected by our integrator, VOL, meets the highest standards of similar implementations today. Next to the obvious aspect of wired and wireless network efficiency, what mattered most was security and monitoring of data sent over that network. The project itself relied on a core built from very efficient operator-grade X670 switches, located at each facility and interconnected, the access network based on efficient X440 access switches of various type (optical fibre, PoE), and the wireless access network managed by virtual controllers.

Equally important was the security of the transmitted data and network monitoring with visibility up to the application layer (ExtremeAnalytics). Implementation of the solution enabled the client to see, analyse and report the traffic in terms of a specific application used by Medical Emergency Teams to communicate with hospital emergency units. "All the solutions are highly scalable and extensible to accomodate future needs as they arise” – says Maciej Stawiarski, Extreme Networks Product Manager at Veracomp.

The implementation was carried out by a consortium of VOL Sp. z o.o. Sp. k. and INEA S.A.

VOL Sp. z o.o. Sp. k. is a Poznań-based integrator, with 18 years of presence on the IT market, focusing on data transmission and data centre infrastructure services. VOL engineers adopt a customised approach to each project, providing comprehensive support during the respective tasks. Their expert competence is proven by the various authorisations they hold, including Extreme Networks Platinum Partner and Fortinet Gold Partner credentials. VOL is active in the health care sector, i.e. in comprehensive IT provisioning for hospitals, bringing innovative solutions to health care systems and improving their functional performance.