The Aurum Institute, a leading healthcare organisation that has become an internationally recognised global authority on HIV and TB treatment and prevention, has embarked on its next-generation networking journey with the assistance of Internet service and network specialist, eNetworks, a Datacentrix company.
Through its health and research programmes, The Aurum Institute has helped to influence and advance new treatment protocols for HIV and TB, as well as to direct better public health policies and practices. The organisation estimated that it has already saved over 500,000 lives in South Africa alone, as well as conducted more than 90 research studies involving over 150,000 participants, performed over 250,000 TB x-rays across rural areas, and carried out in excess of 130,000 male medical circumcisions to help prevent HIV.1
“eNetworks is currently entrusted with The Aurum Institute’s entire WAN infrastructure, incorporating fibre, microwave and DSL services, as well as failover operations at its main branches. This comprises the institute’s head office in Parktown, Johannesburg, major clinical research centres in Rustenburg and Klerksdorp (North West Province) and Tembisa (Gauteng), as well as its public facilities and clinics in Tembisa,” says Frederik van Staden, senior consultant: WAN and ISP Services at eNetworks.
The network also encompasses The Aurum Institute’s 16 additional mainly administrative sites across the country, in areas such as the Western Cape, North West, Gauteng, Free State and Limpopo. At these sites, staff members upload files after collecting relevant health information in the field.
In addition, the company uses its Pretoria-based premises as a conferencing facility for use by partners, collaborators and other organisations, such as the nearby National Department of Health and the USA Centre for Communicable Diseases.
“The reliable and consistent availability of the WAN infrastructure across all of our offices and facilities is of critical importance,” explains Dirk van Schalkwyk, ICT director at The Aurum Institute. “System downtime could lead to extended waiting times for clients at our premises, meaning that we could risk serious reputational damage.
“This in turn could have a catastrophic effect on the R1.1 billion in funds raised for the institute annually by our supporters, which include USA PEPFAR, CDC, USAID, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, the Anglo American Chairman’s Fund and many more.
“As a public benefit organisation, an efficient, transparent ICT infrastructure is critical, and as such, it is our strategy to outsource this service to trusted partners, predominantly Datacentrix,” says Van Schalkwyk. “We have enjoyed a lengthy relationship with the ICT company, utilising a flexible ‘clip on/clip off’ set-up as different services are needed.
“Our long-term partnership with Datacentrix made the moving of our WAN services to eNetworks a natural next step, particularly in light of the fact that eNetworks was able to offer us more flexible, more cost-effective services, delivering the same or better connectivity, with double the throughput.”
Previously, the organisation had a traditional MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) hub and spoke network, tied to an ISP that was not vendor agnostic in its last mile connectivity options. The issue here, comments The Aurum Institute ICT manager, Cristian Pieterse, was that connectivity could not be provided at all sites country-wide, leaving the healthcare organisation having to find alternative means in these cases. “Through its more agile model of partnering with multiple last mile connectivity vendors, eNetworks has been able to provide the best coverage to all of our sites, regardless of location, allowing us to improve service delivery.”
eNetworks’ responsiveness and agility has ensured a close, consultative partnership with The Aurum Institute, continues Van Schalkwyk, with direct access and input received from senior management. “Not only does the company carefully manage The Aurum Institute’s bandwidth usage at all times, ensuring that it is not over-utilised, but our entire experience with the company has been very positive.”
As a next step, The Aurum Institute is planning a move to software-defined networking (SD-WAN) technology for its branch connectivity with eNetworks, which will include its recently established footprint in Ghana and Mozambique.
“The SD-WAN approach is ideal for an organisation like The Aurum Institute, with its branch office environment,” states Van Staden. “Not only does it meet the company’s requirement for more granular reporting, but SD-WAN technology is also able to provide a number of additional performance and cost benefits, such as improving bandwidth efficiencies and end-to-end network visibility while allowing for accelerated services delivery and enhanced availability.
“Furthermore, eNetworks’ continuous consultative engagement model enables The Aurum Institute to remain on the cutting edge of digital transformation, allowing the company to more efficiently provide these critical services that save lives on a daily basis,” Van Staden concludes.