Like so many companies, Community Health Network continued for years to grow, innovate, and expand, while putting greater and greater demands on its IT department, which adapted until it was completely constrained by the systems it was using. Various short-term fixes were tried, with varying degrees of success.
Chris Cerny, Community Health’s Director of Enterprise Networking, explained, “We are constantly trying to keep up with technology. As a result, an upgrade eventually becomes old hat. It became increasingly clear that the service we were getting from our incumbent [fiber network] provider was not sufficient. Nor was their track record adequate in furnishing new services or troubleshooting current services. We needed a provider that would be more flexible as far as service delivery.”
Fiber wasn’t a new technology at Community Health. In fact, it has its own fiber; it leases fiber strands throughout the Indianapolis area; and it leases lit services delivered to us via fiber infrastructure. The combination comprised the Community Health Network Metropolitan Area Network, or MAN. But the Wide Area Network, or WAN, was becoming increasingly difficult to manage efficiently, due in part to a lack of flexibility on the part of a major vendor.
Community had to find a WAN solution that would meet current needs and have the flexibility and capacity to accommodate future system improvements. The WAN had to be reliable, and scalable to keep up with the changes in physical locations and bandwidth demands.
Community discovered that IFN was one of the only providers in the areas where Cerny needed service. “The longer we talked with IFN,” she said, “the more we realized that IFN had the ability to deliver the bandwidth we needed to the locations we needed, in a manner we needed — at a very competitive price.”
But promises are easy to make.
Cerny knew that. “Everything up to this point was only on paper, or from the mouth of a salesman,” she said. “We needed some proof in the pudding. We started small, with a simple order for one point-to-point circuit. That showed that IFN was able to deliver that service very well, in a timely manner. They passed the initial test. So our discussions took on greater scope for service to other locations.”
Cerny said, “IFN was always able to listen to our needs and sculpt a solution, both technically and financially, that was suitable.”
The need for a new provider was readily apparent, and the preferred vendor was identified; the real obstacle, as is so often the case, involved intangibles. “The ‘go’ decision was easy to make,” Cerny said. “The politics involved in removing the incumbent took a lot of time. There were meetings, spreadsheets with various justifications, lease examinations, etc.” But in the end, IFN got the contract.
Then the real work began.
Cerny said, “The hardest parts for us were waiting for the circuits to get built in and planning the transition with the end users.” Timing and meeting deadlines were critical. “IFN had a project manager assigned to this project,” Cerny said. “She kept us informed with every step of the builds. She also was able to articulate our priorities to the outside plant team in order to get installs made as quickly as possible.”
There have been a few surprises along the way, but Cerny said, “Bad surprises – no! Pleasant surprises – how nimble and flexible IFN has been to work with when locations or timelines have changed. If there was something I didn’t think to ask about, IFN brought it to my attention, so we did not encounter any unknowns. That fact alone made for a very successful project, and an even better framework for a partnership.” To sum up, Cerny said, “IFN’s nimble-ness is refreshing!”