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Vision RT is a company that understands the importance of precision, which is why – when concerns about the reliability of its in-house data backup strategy began to grow – its senior management team decided to take urgent action.
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The company’s technology is used to ensure radiotherapy is delivered to cancer patients in a precise and targeted fashion by allowing care providers to closely monitor the position their body is in during a treatment session.
It achieves this by using 3D imaging technology developed in-house to faithfully re-create the patient’s body surface.
That in-house development gives the company a sizeable bank of intellectual property to back up and protect, along with data relating to the installation and deployment of its technology at customer sites.
“All of the software, the code and the research we have done [to create the product] is very valuable and needs to backed up so we don’t lose anything,” Vision RT IT manager Andrew Scott tells Computer Weekly.
“Then we have all the data from when we deploy a product, which we collect as evidence of the install, and we store that on our servers, along with all the admin and policy documentation for the company.”
This data, along with the rest of its IT infrastructure, was housed in a server room at Vision RT’s London HQ until relatively recently when concerns about the resiliency of this setup were aired by the company’s senior management team.
“We had challenges in terms of making reliable backups, because they were being carried out by our admin staff and stored on tapes, so we were relying on this human, physical involvement every day to make sure these backups were being carried out correctly,” Scott says.
“We also had issues in terms of the physical reliability of the hardware, and in terms of bandwidth when providing remote access to our servers via virtual private networks, and we didn’t have any kind of redundancy in our systems in the local office.”
Private cloud data protection
The company was in the throes of working out how to tackle all these areas just before Scott joined as IT manager in mid-2015, and had already decided to enlist the help of managed service provider Adapt and its Habitat private cloud environment.
The setup allows end users to set rules on which performance tier in Habitat their applications and workloads should be run from based on the wider needs of the business.
While Habitat supports public cloud deployments, Scott says RT Vision opted for its private cloud setup for regulatory reasons.
“As our product is installed in a healthcare environment we have to ensure compliance with various regulatory bodies, such as FDA and HIPAA. Using a private cloud allows us to ensure compliance much more easily, as Adapt is able to tailor the solution to meet our needs,” he says.
“Additionally, we have the ability to customise the hardware/storage, and network performance of the various servers, and it would be a lot harder to guarantee the security, customisation or compliance with a public cloud offering.”
At the time of writing, the process of migrating Vision RT’s IT infrastructure to Adapt’s environment is largely complete and has taken around three months, with Scott describing the transition as a trouble-free exercise for its 90 or so staff.
The company did not experience any “major” interruptions of service, and has already started to reap the benefits of handing over responsibility for managing its IT to Adapt, particularly where the performance of its custom-built customer relationship management (CRM) system is concerned, says Scott.
“It would have to communicate a lot of data over the internet, and now that it is hosted in Adapt the responsiveness of that software is much better,” he explains.
The resiliency issues that plagued the company before have also been resolved, as Vision RT has already begun to feel the benefit of using Adapt’s virtual servers to run its operations.
“We had an issue where we deployed software to one of the virtual machine servers Adapt hosts for us, and it caused a major issue on the server,” Scott says. “But because of the way Adapt manages the cloud, they were able to reinstate that server within an hour and a half back to a snapshot of that server from a few hours before.
“If it had been a physical server it would have been a big problem, but it was all resolved within an hour and a half, and is one of the real benefits we’re seeing of moving to Adapt.”
Read more about private cloud deployments
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- Aberdeen City Council has outlined details of its push to adopt a shared services approach to IT delivery, which has seen it shift its entire IT estate to Brightsolid’s managed private cloud.
The company is now moving the remainder of its in-house IT systems over to Adapt, and already has designs on upgrading the software development tools it uses to create its products.
As part of that, Scott says he hopes to host these tools in the Adapt environment and make them more easily accessible to its staff.
“The problem we have now is that, in terms of the build process for our software, the process is quite convoluted, so being able to move on the latest tools that are hosted in the cloud will provide our remote users with much better access to the code they need to work on,” Scott says.