Insight and NHS Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire & Luton ICT Shared Services provide a better service for patients. NHS Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire & Luton ICT Shared Services (HBL) are responsible for keeping the crucial regional data centre infrastructure up to date and running as smoothly and securely as possible, so service levels remain high for the 1.8 million users of the NHS healthcare services.
As providers of the regional NHS’ data centres, staying up to date is of vital importance to HBL and health economy. Aged infrastructure tends to be less capable and suffer from lower reliability, increasing the risk of unscheduled downtime and requiring higher maintenance - including inability to carry out research and develop the business further. All of which reduces the quality of service provided by the NHS and increases taxpayer costs.
It was therefore critical that a new purpose built data centre was installed and maintained. One which would increase data security, reduce maintenance and lower running costs to allow the HBL staff to work proactively and embrace new technologies.
The main consideration for the delivery process was avoiding downtime. The NHS is a 24/7 service that is critical in the lives of millions of people. Any loss of data could slow down services and potentially impact people’s lives. It was crucial to ensure a level of service was never lost during the project.
Insight was given until the end of 2016 to fully replace the HBL data centre - but was able to deliver the project significantly ahead of schedule.
Insight took a phased approach to delivery, to ensure minimum disruption. This was partially achieved through collaboration with another NHS data centre in Farnborough, which handled any processes that were unavailable at the HBL data centre during the delivery process. This ensured that all HBL digital services would run as normal.
The new solution, provided by Insight, is a state-of-theart on-premises server room fully equipped with servers, storage, racking, switches and cooling systems. The new system easily outperforms the old one and had enough spare capacity to future-proof the data centre for the medium term.
The new solution was designed to implement technologies such as IPT (Internet Protocol Telephony) and VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure), allowing a greater level of flexibility and potential future capabilities for HBL to investigate.
Alongside the hardware installation, Insight provided training and advice to HBL staff, to ensure that they possessed the skills and knowledge required to get the most out of their new network.
The most notable benefit of the upgraded data centre emerged during the infamous ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attack in 2016. More than 19,000 appointments across the country were affected. However, HBL managed to repel the attack with absolutely zero data loss or downtime, meaning services ran as normal.
Day-to-day benefits have proven to be significant. Outdated backup tapes have been replaced and overall capacity has increased to a level that allows the excess to be sold off to other NHS trusts.
The carbon footprint and maintenance requirements have also been significantly reduced, allowing the staff to focus on enhancing services, not fire-fighting problems.