Siemens leverages CDN technology to deliver medical app

Content delivery networking (CDN) is moving into the enterprise.

Eighteen months ago, the technology was chiefly involved with balancing requests for Web pages from Internet users across multiple servers and caching content at the edges of the Internet for faster delivery. Now, CDN is gaining renewed attention in the enterprise because companies are looking to improve performance for users of the network, better use existing bandwidth and minimize the need to add more servers, said Michael Alban, strategic alliance manager at Siemens Medical Solutions Health Services Corp. in Malvern, Pa.

Alban discussed his company's implementation of CDN to solve performance problems and stave off future expenses in a presentation yesterday at CDN Expo in San Jose.

Alban said Siemens created a Web interface for a legacy application for managing clinical and patient information for hospitals and other medical service organizations. The interface is a 2MB Java applet application that's pushed to end users' desktops at medical institutions over a private network from Siemens' data center in Pennsylvania. Since each individual desktop has to have an up-to-date copy of the client application, refreshing the Java application on thousands of users' desktops wasn't only going to gobble up bandwidth, it was going to require up to 18 servers to support 50 user organizations at a cost of US$900,000 just for the servers.

To cut the expense and minimize network recovery time in case of server outages, Alban said Siemens installed CDN engines from San Jose-based Cisco Systems Inc. at the main data center and at the edge of the local-area networks of its customers. Now, the Java applet is renewed from the customers' local cache on the Cisco appliance, which means updates to user desktops are instantaneous.

Moreover, said Alban, the edge CDN engines on customer premises combined with CDN engines in the Siemens data center have increased application availability to 99.98 percent, up from 90 percent. Recovery time is "no more than a blip," only three servers are required instead of 18, and Siemens avoided a costly wide-area network upgrade, he said.

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