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Babylon Health expands hybrid cloud infrastructure setup to include Google

Digital healthcare provider Babylon has opened up about the work it is doing with the Google Cloud team, as it grapples with trying to meet the infrastructure needs of its rapidly growing business

Digital healthcare provider Babylon Health has added Google Cloud to the roster of suppliers that make up its hybrid cloud infrastructure estate to enable its business to globally scale with greater ease.

The company, which was founded in 2013, works with third-party healthcare providers in the UK, North America, South-East Asia and Rwanda to allow patients to use their digital devices to make contact with GPs and other healthcare professionals.

The company claims that 24 million patients are signed up to use its offerings, which – in the UK – consists of its GP at Hand service, which gives people in London online access to NHS clinicians on a round-the-clock basis.

To enable the company to continue building out its presence across the globe, it has now teamed up with Google Cloud to help it replace the self-hosted, third-party computing cluster it previously relied on to deliver its services.

“We are not in the business of building a platform, we knew we could go further faster if we brought in an external supplier instead of building everything in-house,” said Richard Noble, engineering director of data at Babylon.

“We chose Google Cloud because we knew it could scale with us and support us with our data science and analysis, and we could build the tools we needed with it quickly. It offers the solutions that enable us to focus on our core business, access to health.”

According to Babylon, its previous setup was struggling to cope with the growing volume of data that Babylon has found itself processing as its business has grown, and this infrastructure was also proving costly to use – both from a compute resource and time perspective.

Read more about Google Cloud deployments

On this point, the company claims that before moving to the Google Cloud, its team processed an average of 1TB of event data each week, whereas now its able to process around 190TB of data each day.

“It’s a relief to build without being concerned about infrastructure scalability or availability,” said Babylon cloud engineer Natalie Godec. “We have more time to focus on serving customers instead of worrying about how much data we’re processing.”

The migration to Google Cloud took just under a year, said Noble, with the firm drawing on the expertise of Google Cloud Partner Netpremecy to guide it through the process, as it continues to pursue a “cloud agnostic” infrastructure strategy.

The company still has some on-premise infrastructure, and also has a different cloud setup in place for its microservices and runtime obligations, but it intends to draw on Google’s artificial intelligence capabilities to create new services for patients and clinicians.

Babylon has also credited Google Cloud with aiding better collaboration within its own engineering team, while also making its data analysts more self-sufficient.

“We reached a point where our data engineers and analysts were skilled enough in cloud engineering to do the majority of the things they needed to themselves, which alleviated a lot of the workload from the platform teams,” said Godec. “We can now use our data at a project level versus a dataset level, or we can authorise an applied scientist to see a particular view of a dataset, for example.

“We’re piecing together different data sources to create a comprehensive understanding of our members’ health [and] leverage the fact that we can store data confidently in different regions.”

Read more on Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

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