NHS IT group refits with Nimble flash and Zerto disaster recovery

Herts and Beds IT provider relegates Dell Equallogic arrays and gets Nimble plus Zerto hybrid flash environment with replication to give 15 minute restore and 99.9% uptime

NHS IT provider HBL ICT has selected Nimble hybrid flash storage plus Zerto replication and disaster recovery as part of a project to rebuild the IT infrastructure for the organisations it serves, and boost uptime from 95% to 99.9%.

HBL ICT provides IT infrastructure services for two clinical commissioning groups and two provider trusts in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Luton, and has 122 staff supporting 9,500 users across 122 sites and 240 GP practices.

The virtual environment is all VMware with 250 virtual machines. There are no virtual desktops but that is on the organisation’s agenda. HBL runs a few physical servers for Oracle financial systems and SQL databases, but it plans to virtualise everything.

The key driver has been to upgrade the IT infrastructure after a period of under-investment, said IT director Phil Turnock.

“For legacy reasons, I inherited an infrastructure that had suffered under-investment for about seven years,” he said. “I was appointed in 2015 to invest in the infrastructure to make it agile and resilient so we could create the HBL private cloud.”

The major key step here has been to create a new datacentre in Welwyn Garden City. HBL has partnered with Ark Data Centres at Farnborough as a secondary site for replication and disaster recovery.

Existing Dell Equallogic internet small computer systems interface (iSCSI) storage arrays have been superceded by 400TB of Nimble hybrid flash storage (of which 360TB is flash) at Welwyn and Farnborough.

Read more about disaster recovery

Zerto will provide asynchronous replication between the two sites. A decision was made not to go for synchronous replication as maintaining active-active sites would have brought substantial licence costs, said Turnock.

Turnock said HBL expects the new infrastructure to stand the environment up in 15 minutes of any outage, with uptime of 99.9%, up from around 94% or 95% in the legacy environment.

Expected benefits of the Zerto deployment are, “that we will achieve our objectives in terms of the availability and uptime of the infrastructure,” said Turnock.

“We also aim to be able to deliver disaster recovery as a service and gain new business that will help reduce cost to partner organisations. Above all though, it will help bring positive benefits to clinical care across two counties.”

Zerto’s Virtual Replication allows customers to automatically replicate virtual machine environments to a secondary site with failover and recovery possible in a few clicks.

The Zerto product can replicate between VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V environments, as well as between private cloud infrastructures and Amazon Web Services (AWS). The product is also storage-agnostic, so a VMware/NetApp environment at one site could be replicated to a Hyper-V/EMC setup at another, for example.

Read more on Storage management and strategy