Private cloud solution transforms critical public health data processes


5 Oct 2010

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The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust carries out effective data consolidation strategy via EMC solution.

The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust delivers a wide range of crucial health care and social services to more than 340,000 people in Belfast, and regional services to the whole of Northern Ireland. Employing more than 20,000 people, and with a distinguished history of excellence, the Belfast Trust is one of Western Europe’s largest public health and social care providers.

The Belfast Trust’s IT & Telecommunications department had the daunting task of centralising all of the critical patient care and operational data scattered across six separate sites, stored in silos on a range of disparate IT infrastructure, using many different applications and operating environments. EMC’s Consulting team provided advisory services that helped the Trust’s IT & Telecommunications staff transform their IT systems.

Centralising the data

EMC and its partners supported the Trust’s team to centralise all the disparate data, develop new processes, train staff, implement a robust backup and DR capability, provide instant multi-user access to critical data and ensure that all data could be accurately accessed by the 600-plus applications that the Trust used to drive patient services and operating requirements.

“EMC presented us with the opportunity to reconsider the way we delivered technology,” Belfast Trust co-director of IT & Telecommunications Paul Duffy states.

“We could have done more of the same (by maintaining legacy systems) but we wanted to take a radical view of how we delivered services to this new environment. While we initially saw EMC delivering a storage platform that was fit for purpose, they ended up providing us with services that would help meet our objectives of centralisation and rapid deployment, all within tight budget constraints.”

EMC, with project partners including VMWare and Cisco (jointly known as ‘VCE’), and Novosco, embarked on implementing a data consolidation strategy that resulted in a private cloud environment that met the Trust’s business objectives whilst complying with privacy guidelines. “Powered by comprehensive VCE infrastructure, the EMC virtual private cloud solution has allowed us to deliver our applications more safely, more robustly – and importantly – more cheaply than we could have done before,” explains Duffy.

In fact, it turned out that the project was not only a technology project. The process also required a transformational journey that engaged all stakeholders and resulted in a critical change to the mindsets and perceptions of Belfast Trust staff to ensure success.

Implementation of the EMC solution has already significantly benefited the Belfast Trust and the patients it serves. Costs have been significantly reduced through data centralisation, migration, deduplication and the reduction in maintenance and overhead costs. Duffy notes that data from 50 legacy servers can now be stored on just one EMC storage device using VMWare virtualisation software. Due to economies derived from the project, the Trust’s scarce financial resources have been redeployed to other critical operating areas.

“We can no longer ignore cloud,” says Duffy. “In the times we live in, where there is huge pressure on the public purse, the delivery of public services more cheaply with innovative technologies cannot be ignored. Public bodies must consider private cloud technology. Big issues such as privacy legislation, compliance and other data related security concerns can be overcome. Cost reduction and the simplification of service delivery is absolutely key.”

Cloud technologies have provided the Trust with instant 24/7 access to a wide range of front- and back-office staff. Data availability and response times to multiple application queries have been substantially improved. All benefits are enabling the Trust to meet – and exceed – its objectives.

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