Cornwall NHS integrates archiving and backup processes

Fed up of dealing with backup systems that didn’t talk to each other, time consuming processes and vast amounts of data, Cornwall IT services decided to do something about it

Cornwall IT services, which manages IT for a cluster of NHS organisations in the area, has implemented a range of Commvault software to get to grips with managing large amounts of data.

Because it covers such a large area with different organisations, all having different backup systems and strategies across different sites, Cornwall IT services decided it needed to bring it all together and improve the backup and recovery strategy.

The firm's backup and recovery specialist engineer, Andi Patrick, told Computer Weekly that originally there were “a number of different backup solutions in place from different suppliers for different areas”.

“None of them talked to each other, which led to a lot of extra work,” he said.

The organisation covers IT services for two NHS trusts: The Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust and Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust, as well as Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group and Peninsula Community Health.

When it went out to tender for a new software asset management system, part of the plan was to upgrade the backup software.

“We wanted to be able to manage everything through a single process,” said Patrick. The company made a shortlist of suppliers, including Symantec and EMC, but eventually landed on Commvault.

Cornwall IT Services manages a largely virtualised environment, using a VMWare vSphere ESX cluster, which includes more than 400 virtual machines and a number of Microsoft applications.

The NHS organisations operate within a highly virtualised estate, with the main datacentre and around half of the remote sites being around 85% virtualised. “We’re virtualising as far as possible and plan to increase the scope even further,” said Patrick.

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As the NHS becomes increasingly digital, with a government mandate of being paper free at the point of care by 2020, the amount of data is also growing. Because it deals with sensitive information, such as patient records, it has to retain the data for a significant amount of time, due to regulatory compliance requirements.

Patrick said that although solving the backup issue by deploying Commvault meant it was quicker and easier to ensure it met the safeguarding criteria for dealing with sensitive data, it didn’t solve the archiving issue.

Like most NHS organisations, budget is tight, and anything it can do to save money and increase efficiency is welcome, so Cornwall IT services “looked at what else Commvault could offer”.

It then decided to deploy the Commvault software for its archiving, moving to a tiered storage system. Using Commvault OnePass, it has integrated archiving, backup and reporting through a single data collection process, a move which has meant less work and more efficiency for the organisation.

“Before, backup and archiving were two separate processes and we couldn’t archive because the backups were taking up all the time,” said Patrick.

“All I did was look after backup systems. Now it’s not my only role and it’s really cut down the time I spend on it.”

Patrick now gets automated reports that “tell me what I need to know”, accessible from his smartphone. “The new reporting service allows me great flexibility in giving the right reports containing the right information, to the right people at the right time,” he said.

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