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NHS Digital starts on multi-cloud push with VMware Cloud on AWS deployment

NHS Digital has adopted a cloud-first strategy to ensure it has the correct infrastructure in place to support the online delivery needs of its service users

NHS Digital has confirmed its pursuit of a multi-cloud strategy, in which it will mix and match cloud services from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, to help improve the efficiency of its operations.

As part of this push, NHS Digital has deployed the VMware Cloud on AWS platform, and is making it available to the entire health service, so that NHS organisations can start moving their on-premise VMware vSphere workloads to the Amazon public cloud.

In line with this, NHS Digital has created a commercial delivery model for the service that will see it assume a cloud broker-like role, so organisations across the NHS and wider public sector can gain access to VMware Cloud on AWS and take advantage of economies of scale.

The organisation, which acts as the technology arm for the UK’s national health and social care system, says it has been a VMware user for 15 years, and that this deployment will enable it to move to the cloud without needing to re-architect its applications first.

It will also pave the way for NHS Digital to combine its existing applications and workloads with native AWS technologies within its cloud environment, and allow its existing staff to manage them in the same way they always have.

Michael Flintoft, associate director of platforms and infrastructure at NHS Digital, said it decided to use VMware Cloud on AWS because it would enable the organisation to draw on its past technology investments and experience, and get up and running in the cloud quickly.  

“We choose the right cloud for each workload, and VMware Cloud on AWS is the absolute best option for running our vSphere-based environments in the cloud,” said Flintoft. “It’s easy to move solutions across the different environments and it’s easy to run and manage.

“We built a virtual datacentre in the AWS cloud in less than three hours. That speed and agility is just what we need to harness innovation and make the best digital services available for the NHS and social care sector.”

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The move to cloud goes hand-in-hand with the push for more NHS services to be made available to citizens online and, as well as AWS, the organisation is also using Microsoft Azure to host some of its applications and workloads.

NHS Digital said in a statement that it is taking a cloud-first approach to ensuring it has the correct infrastructure in place to support the online delivery needs of its service users, which will require drawing on the capabilities of more than one supplier.

In time, it said, “most” of its services will be migrated from its on-premise environments into the Microsoft Azure and AWS clouds, with supplementary support from the VMware Cloud on AWS service.

Rob Shaw, deputy chief executive of NHS Digital, said: “The uptake of digital services in the NHS is accelerating, so the NHS and social care’s IT backbone must be up to the job. With VMware Cloud on AWS, we are providing a resilient platform to support digitally-enabled care today and in the future.”

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