Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust provides general health services for the people of Salisbury and its surrounding areas and specialist services across the region. They are well regarded for the quality of care and treatment that they provide for their patients, and for their innovation, commitment and professionalism.
Peter Gill, Head of Informatics at Salisbury NHS, had recently started working at the hospital when he met with ANS to discuss the Trust’s core network. “When I came into the job I inherited a network that had some issues with aging switches; the overall speed was below what was required and we were experiencing periodic outages. We were also fast running out of space to house our storage hardware; we’d even converted toilet facilities to become temporary computer rooms. We had 190 physical servers and our storage requirements were going to continue to increase and so this was an issue that needed to be addressed.”
Gill explains why these issues were so important to the Trust. “In the NHS it is essential that you have a stable and reliable network. An example of just how important this can be is the delivery of large diagnostic images across our network to all points of care, ranging from the Emergency Department, Ward areas and Outpatients: indeed some procedures in the operating theatres use these diagnostic images on a live basis to support the clinical staff undertake life saving care. It is hugely important that we have a stable network to enable us to perform this function correctly.”
Salisbury commissioned ANS Group to design and build a new infrastructure based on the award-winning Infrastructure 3.0 data centre architecture. The entire estate was virtualised using VMware technology and the legacy storage replaced with NetApp intelligent storage which utilised de-duplication and thin provisioning technology. This combination immediately solved the storage issues faced by the Trust, reducing the amount of servers from 190 to 50 and relieving the pressure on space to house the server racks.
“The NetApp and VMware sections of the new infrastructure solved the pressing issue that we had with our storage,” said Gill. “It also made a big improvement to our disaster recovery and business continuity capabilities. VMware’s Site Recovery Manager and NetApp’s SnapShot mean that we are able to fully restore the system in fifteen minutes should the need arise. We have also built dual active/active data centres to increase our resilience and ensure that all of our medical applications can be utilised seamlessly across both locations.”
Salisbury installed Cisco Nexus switches and used Cisco UCS to unify the network. “The switches were one of our problems with the old network,” explained Gill. “The new Nexus switches have solved the speed issues. We now have a 40GB core network and more reliable switches. We now have full confidence in our network and this allows us to concentrate a lot more of our time on the applications that will add value to the operation of the Trust. The management of the network has also been simplified thanks to the UCS element of the infrastructure.
“There have been big cost savings as well; we expect to save £1.5m in direct costs over the next five years and an additional £3.5m in avoided costs. This includes £50,000 in the first year from power and cooling costs alone. We worked out that for every 50 servers that we virtualised we reduced our carbon footprint by an equivalent of 900 tonnes of carbon dioxide over a three year period.
“The network is now fit for purpose. It is manageable, secure, reliable and strong. We don’t have to spend as much time making sure that it is doing its job, and this allows us to concentrate instead on ensuring that we are developing applications that will improve the level of care that the Trust can offer.”
“There have been big cost savings as well; we expect to save £1.5m in direct costs over the next five years and an additional £3.5m in avoided costs. This includes £50,000 in the first year from power and cooling costs alone. We worked out that for every 50 servers that we virtualised we reduced our carbon footprint by an equivalent of 900 tonnes of carbon dioxide over a three year period."
Peter Gill // Head of Informatics