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Organizations Gain Network Visibility For Better Resolution Time

Sanford, ME — Dec 15, 2010 — Plixer International, Inc. has released an update to their network analysis tool to better assist the medical field and other industries in managing their business networks.

With version 8 of Scrutinizer NetFlow and sFlow Analyzer, medical facilities and businesses can use features like the new Sphere graphical feature to better visualize their networks. Improvements to the Google Maps feature and dashboard views also assist with improved visualization for better network management.

The medical field is extremely focused on patient and data security. To maintain strict adherence to HIPAA privacy regulations, both medical treatment facilities and medical record management facilities require comprehensive and reliable network monitoring solutions.

When PresGar Companies, a privately-owned medical imaging service company with headquarters in Tampa, Florida, began experiencing periods of poor Voice over IP (VoIP) quality, the IT team wondered if their service provider was adhering to preset packet markings. PresGar has successfully developed, managed or acquired advanced imaging centers throughout the United States.

According to Gary Asher, PresGar Director of IT for their facilities, “The QoS settings looked great, and there wasn’t anything wrong with the network on the surface. My first thought was that our provider wasn’t respecting our packet markings, but we didn’t have any way to visualize the network to prove it.”

To troubleshoot VoIP and network problems, PresGar turned to NetFlow analysis and software tools. NetFlow is a technology created by Cisco Systems that monitors and records all IP traffic passing through the supported router or switch. Prior to this technology, IT administrators could see how much traffic was on a network prior to NetFlow creation, but they couldn’t see what kind of traffic it was. NetFlow collectors gather and analyze the flow packets for source IP address, destination IP address, source port number, destination port number, protocol type, type of services, and the router input interface. Through Scrutinizer v8, this data is presented in an innovate and clear graphical format, providing extremely detailed trending and measurement of network traffic.

With the addition of Scrutinizer from Plixer International, PresGar was able to drill deep into the NetFlow records to troubleshoot and solve the voice quality errors and greatly improve efficiency across the enterprise.

As with PresGar, Mercy Hospital in Maine needed a comprehensive and inexpensive network monitoring tool during their massive reorganization and transitional period. Senior Network Engineer Stan DeFreese was responsible for the Mercy Hospital network spanning the hospital’s main location, a brand new campus, 15 remote sites, and the data center.

A large portion of Mercy Hospital’s network traffic flow was engaged by its electronic medical record (EMR) system, MEDIA-TECH. Installing and utilizing Scrutinizer made it much easier to ensure information was safely reaching its final destination. The level of network visibility obtained through NetFlow analysis directly aided DeFreese’s implementation of a locally-housed ambulatory electronic medical record (AEMR) system for both remote sites and main locations. The AEMR would communicate directly with several different aspects of the network infrastructure, including OR and MR applications that communicate directly back to the core medical record. With Scrutinizer, DeFreese has been able to test how the new AEMR system will affect the network’s bandwidth so Mercy Hospital can plan accordingly.

NetFlow analysis has also directly aided network planning and management for facilities like The Outsource Group, one of the largest providers of healthcare revenue cycle management services in the United States. Nationally headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, The Outsource Group has client-focused operation centers from coast to coast focusing exclusively on providing services along the revenue cycle aimed at improving customer’s cash flow.

Within two years, The Outsource Group grew from 400 employees in six locations to 1400 employees in 15 locations. This rapid and ongoing expansion necessitates rapid response from the IT Department to maintain data security. Network monitoring wasn’t something The Outsource Group casually considered; it was something they required. “From a self defense perspective, we just had to know what was going on.” said Kris Gandillion, Director of IT Infrastructure.

Scrutinizer helps The Outsource Group identify little-used pipes in their acquisitions prior VPNs. The software pinpoints the connection’s users so they can be transferred before the lines are disconnected. This integration saves The Outsource Group thousands of dollars each month for each individual location.

Additionally, the tool pinpoints medical centers that send massive FTPs over the pre-existing VPNs, overloading the network. To simplify the migration process, the IT team uses Scrutinizer to narrow in and locate the specific medical facilities sending these FTPs and reschedule when transmissions are sent.

In addition to improving VoIP quality, PresGar also uses Scrutinizer to limit when large transmissions are issued across the network. “Significant data flowing across networks can cause slowdowns and can even kill the system. Scrutinizer provides the entire picture immediately, allowing us to see who the top talkers are and adjust the scheme accordingly” Asher said.

With improved network visualization, medical facilities are seeing significant cost savings. PresGar has also saved thousands of dollars and increased productivity for doctors and well as gained reduced troubleshooting time to resolution.

Mercy Hospital used the network analysis tool to discover that they were significantly overpaying for a gigabyte TLS connection but were only using less than 50 megabytes. By adjusting their subscription, they saved between $80,000 and $100,000 a year.

The Outsource Group found solid fiscal gains by use of Scrutinizer. The tool helps the IT team identify the little-used pipes in their acquisitions prior VPNs. Scrutinizer pinpoints the connection’s users so they can be transferred before the lines are disconnected. This integration saves thousands of dollars each month for each individual location.

Scrutinizer’s color-coded reports and innovative graphical images make network traffic instantly visible to provide a proactive and efficient network management operation. Scrutinizer’s MyView feature with company mapping is constantly on the screen of IT Director Kris Gandillion. “Scrutinizer allows us to be proactive rather than reactive” he said.

Because the medical industry is charged with upholding data and patient security, facilities require comprehensive and reliable network analysis solutions. The version 8 release of Scrutinizer enhances the network visualization, allowing administrators to improve QoS and troubleshooting while decreasing IT costs.

In addition to PresGar Companies, Mercy Hospital, and The Outsource Group, other medical facilities have also recognized the benefits of using Scrutinizer for their network traffic analysis. Businesses such as H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, 1800-Contacts, and Alegent Health have begun taking advantage of Scrutinizer’s advanced NetFlow reporting capabilities.

“Scrutinizer takes a complicated situation and makes it understandable” remarked DeFreese. “Graphs and the solution’s simplistic but comprehensive layout break down the situation for the end user.”

Download a free trial of Plixer’s Scrutinizer for NetFlow traffic analysis, or schedule a live demo by calling: (207) 324-8805 or via email at [email protected]. For more NetFlow insight, follow Plixer International on their Blog, Twitter, Facebook or join the NetFlow Developments Group on LinkedIn.

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About Plixer International, Inc.

Plixer International, Inc. develops and markets network traffic monitoring and analysis tools to the global market. All of the tools are built from the ground up with valuable feature sets and ease of use in mind. Plixer tools have been used to analyze and troubleshoot irregular traffic patterns by IT professionals with some of the largest networks in the world, such as CNN, The Coca-Cola Company, Lockheed Martin, IBM, Regal Cinemas, Raytheon, and Eddie Bauer.

For product and sales information, contact Plixer International, Inc. at 1 Eagle Drive, Sanford, Maine, via telephone (207) 324-8805, fax (207) 324-8683; or visit the Plixer website.