Healthcare trusts up and down the country serve millions of patients, with multiple points of contact and care being delivered by a plethora of organisations.
As such, IT systems hold a huge amount of data and trusts are increasingly looking for innovative and trustworthy storage solutions.
One example of where this issue is being successfully resolved is at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which is working with flash storage specialist, Tintri, to realise its ambitious virtualisation strategy.
One of the largest NHS trusts in England; it was formed in 2007 following the merger of Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust and St Mary's NHS Trust with Imperial College London Faculty of Medicine.
It is now one of four major trauma centres in London, managing five hospitals in the capital, employing close to 10,000 people, and treating more than a million patients each year.
As such, critical systems used 24/7 must have predictably-fast performance.
To ensure this, the trust began the process of virtualising its server infrastructure.
But, like many similar organisations, it found that its enterprise SAN storage was not meeting the performance and capacity requirements. In addition, IT staff were constantly tuning storage to maintain performance levels, drawing them away from higher-impact projects.
With close to 1,500 VMs, this represented a significant resource overhead.
Speaking to BBH about the problem, Yusuf Mangera, the trust’s technical architect, explains: “Our previous storage contract was around two years into a five-year deal when we realised it would not be long before we ran out of space.”
“Cost is a huge factor when you are generating a large amount of data and have new services in development all the time.
“This made us keen to look at other solutions.”
The trust was looking for a storage solution that would self-manage while delivering high performance, providing a reduction in resource overhead.
After considerable market research, the in-house IT team deployed three Tintri solutions, supporting workloads across both VMware and Hyper-V, and shrinking its storage footprint. As a result, it was able to redeploy its SAN storage to focus on physical servers and file servers, while Tintri managed its virtual estate.
One of the biggest benefits of Tintri was the ease of implementation and migration, which took only 15 minutes.
Now, three years on, the solution has been added to extensively, with further Tintri features such as replication and disaster recovery, and SyncVM, which allows the trust to forecast growth and trends 18 months in advance. As a result, Tintri now plays a major role in the trust’s operations.
Mangera said: “The results have been remarkable. We haven’t had to look into any performance-related problems at all.
“Tintri just works to the point where people have forgotten that the appliances even exist.
The NHS, and public sector in general, is under huge pressure to save money and reduce staff and, for us, it’s about managing what little funding we have and getting the best-possible solution from that
“As a major trauma centre, it is essential we maintain service robustness and confidence plays a big part in that.”
“The NHS, and public sector in general, is under huge pressure to save money and reduce staff and, for us, it’s about managing what little funding we have and getting the best-possible solution from that.”
In particular, the trust has benefited from IT professionals saving time, which can now be spent on more-frontline activities, rather than storage and capacity problems.
“The system is always available,” said Mangera. “We haven’t had any downtime in the three years.
“Currently we are transforming desktops, of which we have more than 10,000, to make them more intuitive and to ensure staff can access information from any point.
“The Tintri solution means we can standardise systems and provide staff with the ability to move from service to service and still experience the same provision.”
Mark Young, vice president of systems engineering and field chief technology officer at Tintri, added: “Imperial College Healthcare NHS is dedicated to providing the highest-quality service to its patients—IT infrastructure needs to be an enabler, not a distraction.”
“Tintri is designed to automate processes and streamline performance, ideal for organisations such as Imperial College that have a virtualisation strategy and a need for IT that simply works.”