FRAGILE TO AGILE FOR NHS TRUSTS
• Organisations’ brittle in-house data hubs on weekly brink of disaster.
• Clinician confidence was hanging by a thread.
• But following move to Crown Hosting Framework, HBL has been major incident free for A YEAR – and counting.
• Simple pre-procured framework with clear pricing plan and predictable costs.
• HBL reveals immediate savings are being seen whilst £130,000 a week spend on maintenance becomes consigned to the past.
• Any issues now resolved in minutes rather than days with 24/7 support provided.
It was a situation that brings sleepless nights to many an IT director in the public sector. In 2015, the NHS Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Luton ICT Shared Services (HBL) was suffering bi-weekly major incidents and sizeable maintenance costs at its two in-house data hubs.
Providing IT services to 210 GP practices, 9000 users and 122 sites across two counties, it became clear that its past infrastructure was unable to meet the evolving needs of its service users – many of which were clinicians. The situation was dire. Change was needed – and it was needed quickly. HBL IT Director Phil Turnock explains: “We had to re-evaluate our comprehensive infrastructure and it couldn’t be put off any longer.
We were dealing with computer systems which were seven years old and two data hubs, one based in St Albans and the other in Welwyn Garden City, both of which had limited cooling systems and resilience in their design. When patient care is at the core of everything we do, this fragile way of dealing with data was both damaging to our end user and seriously diminished partner confidence in us.”
HBL evaluated the options open to them, considering the control and security of data, system requirements, cost and a capital investment programme to redesign the infrastructure altogether. Thankfully, Shared Services opted for a secondary data centre with Crown Hosting Data Centres in support of its primary new on-premise data centre in Welwyn Garden City.
Usman Khan, Head of Financial Services at HBL Shared Services said: “We were already conducting a tender for another project at this time, so to conduct another and deal with procurement alongside it just wasn’t feasible. “Crown Hosting offered us one simple framework that demonstrated a clear pricing plan, offered us flexibility built in, so we could grow accordingly, and included security of our site in the price. They helped us deliver the art of the impossible”.
By opting for Crown Hosting, HBL ICT were able to upgrade their on-premise data centre in Welwyn Garden City, which was built in January 2017 and commissioned in June 2017, and have a secondary data centre in Crown Hosting. For both sites, they have complete control.
Phil Turnock continued: “Public Cloud tries to dictate your strategy. With the Crown Hosting framework, we retain ownership of our data and core infrastructure, with the ability to expand at scale and pace”.
After this complete infrastructure overhaul of its legacy state in both its data hubs, HBL has been able to increase resilience to provide a stable platform for its users. Usman Khan explained: “We used to be spending £130,000 a week to manage the upkeep costs of our poorly serviced data hubs, but now, most things are under warranty and we are seeing ROI straight away.
Although it is early days, we are already able to identify savings.” “The inability to forecast budgets and finances always made my job harder, especially because the flow of funding from the NHS (being a roll-on budget) and its unpredictable nature. With Public Cloud, you struggle to forecast the cost because someone else is driving the expenditure. If you go back to your funding authorities to say there’s an additional cost this year that has just been sprung on you, that’s a huge problem.
“But Private Cloud migration with a hybrid solution like Crown Hosting is all about choice,” Mr Khan continued. “We can now drive harder deals with our suppliers, control our capital and better forecast our spending for the year ahead, all because we no longer have the hefty maintenance we used to have. This way, we haven’t sold ourselves out to the Public Cloud and suffered unpredictable costs from our provider”.
HBL’s Crown Hosting data centre’s technology replicates its Welwyn Garden City on-premise site but because Crown Hosting is a commodity-based solution, the Shared Service can expand and decrease as per demand. It’s proving to be a great compliment to its on-premise solution. The Crown Hosting Framework brings with it a facility that is supported 24/7.
As a result, incidents – in the rare case they occur – can now be resolved in minutes rather than days. The solution has made HBL resistant in the face of a possible threat. Since the move, clinicians from each Trust can now be off-site visiting patients with technology in their hands that they can rely on. In the bigger picture, the reliability of this new infrastructure has meant the end user – the patient needing care – has a sturdy and dependable service from the Trust it can rely on.
Phil Turnock outlined: “With GDPR on the horizon, the NHS have been nervous about how their data is hosted. But with the impressive public-sector bodies already using the Crown Hosting Framework, the Trusts made the leap; data resides in the UK which gives us, and should give the customer, confidence in their data security.”
HBL Shared Services has certainly put trust in Crown Hosting and as a result, has created a flexible, robust and secure infrastructure for its data, which has had a direct positive impact on its customers. This is big a vote of confidence for other organisations that tolerate poor data storage who are looking to follow suit.