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August 16, 2017

Dutch VECOZO uses Cisco ACI ecosystem to meet growing network demands

Healthcare costs are rising globally, making it increasingly difficult for patients to get the care they need. In the Netherlands, non-profit organization, VECOZO, was founded to maintain cost control in the Dutch Healthcare sector. It operates the national portal for data exchange (entitlement check and billing and other services) between healthcare providers and insurers. In order to meet growing demands on its network infrastructure, VECOZO decided to work together with Cisco, the tech company writes in a blog.

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In 2016 alone, VECOZO processed over two billion digital messages across 30 services with 42,000 connected health providers (118,000 users). It processed digital invoices totalling €69 billion. As customers across the care chain demanded more access, VECOZO ran into a steep rise in new application needs and increased network traffic. The organization needed a new infrastructure solution with minimal cost increase to maintain business continuity.

To realize this, a new IT model was needed, with key requirements including faster time to market and 24/7 uptime, explains VECOZO IT team leader André Beerendonk. “Building out infrastructure could take many weeks depending on our specialists’ availability. Our services must run with zero interruption, but we had no real network insight. That made it harder to ensure uptime and control the user experience due to mission critical applications running on top of its IT infrastructure.”

Meeting growing network demand

To meet the growing demand for applications and the network loads in its data center, VECOZO chose to deploy a joint solution based on Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure and Citrix NetScaler as a next generation foundation. Spanning two data centers, this joint solution combines Cisco and Citrix capabilities to enable rapid application deployment and services integration onto multi-tenant networks.

Cisco ACI with Citrix NetScaler helped VECOZO boost application availability and performance through seamless integration of Citrix NetScaler’s programmable fabric with Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller. For the highest levels of protection, VECOZO added Cisco next-generation firewalls, collapsing multiple security layers into one. In addition, through Cisco UCS Director integration with ACI, end users get a seamless experience for application deployment and orchestration.

Applications now guide network

According to Cisco, VECOZO has the benefits of a fully programmable stack, achieved integrating Cisco ACI’s Layer 2-to-3 and NetScaler Layer 4-to-7 fabrics. This, Beerendonck explains, has made a profound difference. Applications are deployed with greater security and reliability—and up to five-times faster. Now they guide the network, rather than the other way around. VECOZO now has a robust process to support compliance and can pull up reports and network charts on the fly. Total cost of ownership is lower, thanks to a smaller and greener data center footprint. The business is easier to manage with the elimination of operational silos and predictable IT costs.

Beerendonck: “Service creation no longer depends on specialists. Pretty much anyone here can do it with minimal effort. As a result, we’ve been able to grow our infrastructure and services by 50 percent with the same headcount thanks to Cisco ACI and its partner ecosystem.”

Simplify and automate processes

“Our strategy was to simplify and automate everything,” adds ICT architect, Igor van Haren. “Cisco Services really helped. They shared valuable expertise and tools, helping us accelerate and complete the migration in just four months. Key steps, like ensuring proper documentation, cut down testing requirements by 90 percent.”

VECOZO has also been able to deliver new services. For example, by enabling healthcare providers to combine several medical treatments into one declaration, while also extending contract negotiations between healthcare providers and insurers.

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