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The next convergence show down – Healthcare

I often engage in discussions with IT Directors, CIO’s, BioMed and CE teams at healthcare organizations worldwide.  When the topic of medical device connectivity arises, it’s the point in the conversation where it gets – ah interesting.  Points of view between the IT and Biomedical sides of the house are – sometimes aligned, but often there are gaps in the expected roles and responsibilities.

So rewind the clock a bit… back to the early 90’s when IBM had a foothold on its proprietary protocol known (and loved) as Systems Network Architecture commonly known as SNA.  The two sides of the house back then were the mainframe group and the PC networking teams that were quickly emerging.  The thought of providing end user connectivity to the big iron over something called Thinnet was very controversial in many big blue shops.  I often thought that perhaps Thinnet was suffering from a market naming perception problem – but none the less at the time it was thought of as an inadequate transport technology to provide green screen access to the datacenter Big Iron (Yes — I said Green Screen).  The general feeling was that the sky fall, on-call pagers would endlessly go off and the availability and performance reports would inevitably point the fingers of blame to the mainframe – something that was simply not allowed to happen!

Forwarding the clock a bit – say mid to late 90’s – the next and potentially the most important wave to date of convergence arrived – Voice.  The thought of putting voice traffic on an IP network was believed by many at the time as just crazy.  Again, falling skys and lots of dropped and unintelligible calls would result – the networks HAD to be separate.  It was the way it was… but slowly over time, voice along with its cousin IBM SNA (both sharing the same sir name of “critical” btw) were riding the same converged network and living happily together. Read More »

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