Networks, Backup & Recovery - Caregroup

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Case Backgroud: This case is regarding the network outage in CareGroup IT which lasted for about 3 days and how the CareGroup IT was able to resolve this by working in conjunction with Cisco Networking team. As the company did not design a contingency plan for such an outage, its employees had to switch back to paper based system, an outdated backup plan designed for Y2K. John Halamka, CIO of the Caregroup also talks towards the end of the case regarding the lessons learned from this critical issue which in fact, did not have any adverse effect but rather brought down CareGroup day-to-day operations. Case Analysis: Caregroup Network was based on Spanning Tree Protocol which establishes a single shortest route between the hosts by forcing the redundant paths into a standby or blocked state. If one network segment in the STP becomes unreachable, the spanning tree algorithm reconfigures the spanning tree topology and reestablishes the link by activating the standby path. IT team started diagnosing this problem by turning off network segment /switches to isolate the source of the problem which led to re-calculating the routes. These calculations were so complex that those switches gave up doing everything else and network collapsed. Switches were turned on so that the network was back up. Although the network flapped till evening, it did settle down in the night due to no activities in the hospitals. The next day, CPU usage started to spike slowing down the network. Caregroup IT team was able to find out the root cause of the issue which triggered when a researcher tested an application based on file sharing which copies information across the network which quickly monopolized the entire network slowing down all network traffic due to spanning tree protocol loops. Cisco System was called for help which employed CAP (Customer Assurance Program) to address the issue.

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