Belfast Health Trust virtualises its way to the cloud

News

Belfast Health Trust virtualises its way to the cloud

Caroline Baldwin

The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust is implementing virtualisation technology across the organisation, with hopes to become a cloud provider in the near future.

By using Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) – a joint venture between Cisco and EMC with investment from VMWare and Intel – the trust is in the middle of a journey to implement off-the-shelf virtualisation technology.

cloud.jpg

“The whole point of doing this was to reduce cost of ownership and increase reliability in a cohesive single element,” says Paul Duffy, co-director for IT and telecommunications at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.

The trust began working with IT services provider Novosco in 2008, just after the trust was formed from seven other health organisations. The seven IT teams had to merge into one, so they used the opportunity to revaluate the trust's service and consolidate suppliers and vendors.

“We had to review our existing infrastructure,” says Duffy. “We realised that rather than having multiple tools and multiple services, providers, we needed to focus on joining these different technologies to manage them in a much more scalable way that we had before.”

To centralise its IT, the trust worked closely with Novosco to implement the initial infrastructure. “If we can’t centralise it, we can’t measure it and if we can’t measure it, we can’t improve it,” says Duffy.

The trust bought the VCE environment, combining itg with Citrix and Microsoft to buy the software and hardware tools needed for their infrastructure.

The virtualisation infrastructure is currently used by 14,000 trust employees and on about 10,000 desktops.

“We’re heavily virtualised now,” says Duffy. “The expectation that everything’s virtualised - apart from those vendors who refuse to play ball.”

Hear Paul Duffy speak at the CIO Futures event

Paul Duffy of the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust will be speaking at an event on Thursday the 10th of October. The CIO Futures - Best Practices to Stay Ahead of the Game event will be held in Manchester, and Duffy will be talking about the trust's journey to a next generation desktop.

To register for the event for free, click here.

A continuous journey

While the service needs to be constantly improved and upgraded, the trust is also under a lot of pressure to reduce its costs. Duffy says Novosco helped them to use the toolset that came with the EMC, VMWare and Cisco technologies to plan and forecast growth, activity and cost.Duffy says the trust is not at the end of its journey, but in the middle of a continuous journey of improvement.

“Once the easy bit - which is the technology - is done, the hard bit around process and improvement needs to kick in after that,” he says.

He says that he doesn’t want to have constant conversations around the technology with the different trust sectors, but wants to talk to them in a language they can understand.

“How can we help them deliver their objectives using technology and not have them worry about whether its reliable and cost effective or whether they can depend upon it in the future - that’s where I want to be,” says Duffy.

People don’t like change

Duffy says the IT department sits on both sides of the fence in terms of technology and the business. “We’re deeply technology driven, but we understand the relevance to the organisation. So we’re trying to get into business conversations at the moment.”

He says convincing the various business areas of the trust that changes are vital has been tricky, saying that some people don’t want to change.

“The main difficulty, if I could put it down in one word,” he says. “It’s change. Change is very difficult.”

Additionally, the virtualisation technology is not always relevant to all the departments within the trust. Devices that connect to other medical devices, systems to view X-rays and low bandwidth areas are problematic for the roll out. “A health service isn’t like a bank where you’re rolling out SAP and that’s part of everything you do,” he says. “The health service is a very complex mix of different functions.”

A cloud provider

But the Belfast trust is most definitely changing with the times. Duffy says that the IT department aspires to be a cloud services provider.

“If we’re going to remain relevant in the coming years we’re going to have to be better, cheaper or add greater value. We can take the best of what cloud can be and reshape that to deliver within our own service.”

Duffy says that becoming a cloud services provider for the trust would also reduce pressure on the health service, which is trying to cut costs, but it needs to assess this in-house.  He would like IT to be agile, dynamic and reactive to customer demand.

“We need to translate the consumption of [the cloud] into the business benefit. If we don’t understand our cost model then we have a problem."

Paul Duffy of the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust will be speaking at an event on Thursday the 10th of October. The CIO Futures - Best Practices to Stay Ahead of the Game event will be held in Manchester, and Duffy will be talking about the trust's journey to a next generation desktop.

To register for the event for free, click here.


Email Alerts

Register now to receive ComputerWeekly.com IT-related news, guides and more, delivered to your inbox.
By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy
 

COMMENTS powered by Disqus  //  Commenting policy