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NHS awards multi-million pound private cloud contract to Manchester-based ANS

Archana Venkatraman

The newly-formed Greater Manchester Commissioning Support Unit (CSU), part of the government’s ongoing restructure of health and social care, has signed a three-year multi-million pound IT contract for cloud computing services with Manchester-based provider ANS Group.

ANS is tasked to develop, install and support a private cloud platform for the NHS unit and improve IT efficiency for its 12,500 NHS employees.

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The Greater Manchester CSU has been operational since October but was formally established in April 2013. The new body is responsible for providing support services to Greater Manchester’s 12 new Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), which will replace the region’s 10 existing Primary Care Trusts (PCTs). 

What Greater Manchester CSU wanted in terms of a “private” cloud-based platform was an IT set-up that would enable the unit to support the IT needs of CCGs in Greater Manchester efficiently, said Peter Moseley, IT Director at Greater Manchester CSU.

After a five-way tender process, ANS was selected to implement its “Infrastructure 3.0” datacentre design which uses next generation technology such as Cisco's unified computing and Nexus switches, VMware's virtualisation tools and NetApp's storage and de-duplication services to streamline and unify the infrastructure.

Such a pre-tested and validated reference architecture for serverstorage and networking components that work together as an integrated infrastructure stack is called FlexPod architecture.

The stack of products from multiple suppliers is sold by storage supplier NetApp or its channel partners.

The FlexPod architecture will offer a multi-tenanted private cloud computing platform for all CCGs across Greater Manchester, hosted by Greater Manchester CSU.

The components of the new CSU datacentre will include Cisco UCS Blades, NetApp storage, VMware server virtualisation products and Cisco Nexus switches.

Combining the consolidated storage from NetApp’s de-duplication and thin provisioning tools with VMware’s virtualisation technology will dramatically reduce the physical server count, ANS said.

The new private cloud datacentre will mean that the IT infrastructure previously used by the existing PCTs will be standardised, rationalised, integrated and consolidated – driving efficiencies to help meet NHS targets. 

NHS Greater Manchester’s CCGs will also be able to meet their IT cost cuts targets of 35% because the datacentre will help reduce cabling and datacentre power and cooling costs. It will also help cut IT maintenance time and cost, limit network management time and reduce future capital expenditure, ANS said.

Investec named ANS Group as the 14th fastest-growing UK companies for its FlexPod architecture and managed services offerings. ANS provides its IT services to other public sector organisations including Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, Salford City Council and Tower Hamlets among others.


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