Mater Hospital continues to reap ATM rewards

The Mater Hospital, Brisbane is still reaping the rewards of a 1995 decision to dump Cabletron equipment and install the then emerging ATM technology.

Combining five hospitals -- Mater Mothers, Mater Children's, Mater Adults, Mater Mothers Private, Mater Children's Private -- the organisation reports the network is years away from requiring an upgrade.

Paul Ferguson, director of IT management for the five hospitals, said although it was risky to install ATM so early in its development, he is "not particularly concerned" about the emergence of new technologies in the future.

"I think [after the project] we're better placed to move in new directions at a better cost," Ferguson said.

"No vendor is going to abandon ATM completely," he added.

According to Ferguson, the ATM network was implemented at the hospitals in 1995 with an estimated lifespan of up to 10 years.

Close to four years down the track now, Ferguson said, the network -- supplied by Centillion (now part of Nortel's Bay line of business) -- is more than adequate for the organisation's requirements. Using the Centillion switch, the Mater hospitals have built a fully redundant ATM backbone running between the different buildings as well as providing a variety of services to each hospital.

"We still haven't taken what we've got to full advantage," Ferguson said. "At the time [of installation] we needed to substantially build our architecture . . . [we were] moving to a more visual-basis which [was] going to need large bandwidth well into the future." According to Ferguson, ATM technology was chosen from other alternatives such as FDDI and token ring, which vendors saw as the more popular choices.

"Most vendors pushed FDDI and token ring . . . [but they] didn't really give us much flexibility, and the costs would have been astronomical," Ferguson said.

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