LAS VEGAS — A Tampa, Florida-based cancer research center is using software-defined networking (SDN) to overhaul its network, update its disaster recovery system, and connect its four campuses.
Speaking to SDxCentral on the sidelines of VMWorld 2017 in Las Vegas last month, Tom Hull, CTO of Moffitt Cancer Center, said that Moffitt is currently in the “design phase” of its network overhaul that includes using VMware’s NSX network virtualization technology to migrate to a virtual environment.
Hull said the company has been working with VMware’s NSX for about two years and is using it for microsegmentation, which enables the center to transfer security policies and firewall rules down to the workload level.
Hull said that Moffitt’s reason for the network overhaul is that it wants to be able to exchange information on clinical trials and research projects with universities and other research centers around the globe. “We have researchers at our center that are doing spectacular research,” Hull said, adding that it can be challenging to share its clinical research with others in a secure way.
The center has partnered with VMware and is using the company’s professional services for the network design. “We are doing automation but are still in phase 1,” Hull said. He estimates it will take about two or three more years to finish the network modernization project.
The company has converted to some white box servers but has not completely moved away from the legacy hardware.
Currently, Hull is focused on updating Moffitt’s disaster recovery network, which he said costs the company more than a million dollars a year to maintain. The original disaster recovery architecture was built around proprietary server hardware and software.
For Hull, focusing on disaster recovery is a way to convince Moffitt’s board of directors to upgrade the network and incorporate virtualization. “DR [disaster recovery] is a way to get this in the door,” Hull said. “Within the first year I’ll save money. Within 10 years the cost savings will be in the millions.”
Long-term, Hull plans to incorporate the Internet of Things (IoT) into Moffitt’s network and use sensors to monitor patient movement, respiratory rates, and other data that will then be communicated to the nurses’ stations. However, he said that network latency is a concern as is network security. “All the data will be going over the wireless or wired network,” he said. “And there are security concerns. We need to get the data into a virtual environment and segment it with NSX and use firewall rules. That is a major use case for us.”