Cisco Unified Access connects University of Wales Hospital

New Catalyst switch, combining wireless and wired access into one product used by University of Wales hospital to benefit patients and staff

Cisco today launched its new Unified Access programme, enabling wired and wireless connections to be brought together into one switch.

The company unveiled its strategy at the Cisco Live event, being held in London this week, with an aim to make networks “simpler, more secure and easy to use.”

The launch came with two products. The Catalyst 3850 Unified Access Switch brings all of Cisco’s usual wired capabilities to a business but has a built-in wireless LAN controller to provide wireless access to wherever it is installed. 

The 5760 Unified Access WLAN controller, however, is for those who do not want to tear out their existing wired infrastructure, but want to add the wireless capabilities on top.

“We believe networks need to be simple with one policy, one management and one underlying network with consistent service capabilities whether wired, wireless or virtual private network (VPN),” said Rob Soderbery, senior vice-president and general manager of the enterprise networking group at Cisco.

“These products make enterprises ready for the scale of the mobile era.”

Cisco has been using Unified Access in-house for 18 months, with Soderbery saying his whole development team was based on the network. However, in November, it approached the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff to bring it on-board as a pilot customer.

The IT department took on the challenge and, 58 days ago, began working on a number of goals to benefit the needs of both patients and staff at the hospital.

“After three or four calls, we thought that sounds great, my dream coming to reality,” said Gareth Bulpin, technical development network and support manager at the hospital.

“We had the system delivered on 2 December and our first goal was to get the internet onto the bone marrow transplant unit so the patients, who are there for six to nine weeks, can speak to their parents and families on Skype on Christmas Day. The second was to give clinicians iPad access to the hospital portal so they could see results.”

Both these targets were achieved; the first two days before Christmas and the second in the second week of January.

Now, Bulpin and the team are embarking on two more goals using the new Cisco range.

“The next goal is to connect to Cardiff University and the academic network, then connect the wired networks together as well,” Bulpin said.

“Phase three is en-route and that will mean the junior doctors, when they go round our hospitals, will be able to see the libraries of academia. We will deliver, it will happen. We will then connect the wired networks.”

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