IT efficiency and availability through consolidation and standardisation of Data Centres

Delivering a programme of works to consolidate and standardise multiple Data Centres and Data Centre technologies across 12 health communities in just 12 months.

The challenge

SCW identified a programme of works to consolidate and standardise multiple data centres and data centre technologies across the health communities and STPs of Bristol, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Thames Valley. In order to remove operational risks and increase service availability and flexibility, the programme's objectives were to consolidate from 12 data suites to a maximum of four fit-for-purpose data centres across three legacy health areas, as well as improving capabilities around performance, future-proofing and flexibility.

The approach

We undertook an exercise to identify all the legacy shared infrastructure from across the regions and developed a transition approach to achieve a common dynamically resilient scalable single architecture. We have engineered a single approach architecture with dynamic failover routing technologies triangulated between all Data Centres enabling fast and efficient failover Disaster recovery (DR) and Business Continuity (BC) capabilities across all supported service user areas.

Working with numerous Wide Area Network (WAN) service providers a resilient WAN architecture was re-engineered through upgrading and relocation of existing surplus, and redundant services were ceased to realise ongoing operational savings. Services have been transitioned from proof of concept to production without impacting service users, utilising where possible the redistribution of existing core infrastructure to maximise the Return on Investment.

Using PRINCE2 and MSP methodologies with agile approaches to deliverables the programme has delivered real benefits in terms of improved service availability and capabilities. Early engagement with key stakeholders was delivered through a series of workshops and a simple to understand short video that could be shared and understood at all levels. Further benefits have been seen in terms of technical staff coming together sharing knowledge and working closely across previously separate geographical and organisational areas delivering a common fit for purpose solution.

The results

The entre Southampton and Portsmouth Primary Data Centre was relocated from its location at St James Hospital and consolidated into the SCW Data Centre located within University Hospitals Bristol Foundation Trust Tier 3 Data Centre. In addition, a single common architecture has now been adopted across the four remaining legacy area data centres reducing risks and increasing service availability and performance. This enables the 'Infrastructure as a Service' capabilities to be delivered efficiently regardless of location.

We further implemented a 'fit for purpose' domain, which was highly available, scalable and future-proofed the infrastructure that was used for the consolidation of all legacy BI applications. This enabled improved service user access from numerous customer domains. The programme has delivered cashable savings through consolidation whilst increasing service availability times - £10k for phase 1 in 2018/19 with phase 2 to deliver £100k in 2019/20.

“The upgrade of the N3 connection for Connecting Care was a significant part of phase 2 set up of Connecting Care and was essential to continue growing the user base and the breadth of data consumed. The communication and co-operative planning before the change – both from a technical and a project management point of view – was excellent and ensured that the process completed smoothly and with minimum impact on Connecting Care’s users. The availability of expert technical resource during the change was also invaluable in ensuring a seamless transition.” - Emlyn Jones of Connecting Care (SCW employee)

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