Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (BSUH) NHS Trust has revealed that it has moved away from a shared services IT model to an in-house IT infrastructure based on HP’s Converged Cloud solution.

BSUH is a teaching hospital working across the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton and the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath. With 7,500 staff, the BSUH treats over three quarters of a million patients annually. 

Prior to the IT overhaul, BSUH was running incredibly outdated systems – Microsoft Windows NT4 operating system and Exchange 5.5 – and had also lost control of its IT strategy by “not having the IT brain within the organisation”.

About two years ago, IT Director Ian Arbuthnot took the decision to in-source the Trust's IT infrastructure. With the help of reseller OCSL, he developed a private cloud based on HP Converged Cloud coupled with Microsoft Hyper-V.

“For me, the advantage of converged infrastructure is simplicity,” said Arbuthnot. “The clinicians don't give a monkeys what's going on behind the scenes, but the big difference is that IT doesn’t feel like an impediment any more.”

OCSL recommended and implemented an HP CloudSystem based on two HP ProLiant BladeSystem c7000 enclosures with 16 HP ProLiant G7 server blades, and six HP ProLiant rack-mounted servers, all integrated with HP Matrix Operating Environment. 

HP Virtual Connect 10Gb Ethernet Modules connect the server blades to a storage area network (SAN) comprising four HP StoreVirtual P4500 Storage Systems with automated failover and an HP StoreEver MSL4048 LTO-4 Ultrium Tape Library for secondary backup.

The new infrastructure has enabled BSUH to begin updating its line-of-business applications, and roll out Microsoft Lync to all PCs and tablets, providing a reliable messaging platform for collaboration and productivity.

“My initial stance was I just wanted to be where I thought we should be, ie. Active Directory, Exchange 2010 – nothing too dramatic in terms of corporate stuff,” said Arbuthnot, “but I also wanted a platform on which to build and move clinical applications.”

The Trust is currently in the process of introducing a new Electronic Patient Record system, allowing it to move away from “millions and millions of bits of paper” – something that would not have been possible using the old IT infrastructure.

“When we move to full EPR (Electronic Patient Records), there will be some sort of tablet at every nurse station. We also want to remove the need to be constrained by the four walls. We want to go out and treat people, and we want to move our care to the patient rather than the patient to the care,” said Arbuthnot.

“So to have an infrastructure where we can use things like Direct Access to securely tunnel through and allow applications to be presented to clinicians wherever they are is a big tick in the box.”

He added that the new platform is “rock solid”, and because BSUH has two data centres that sit an an active-active mode, the infrastructure is inherently resilient, meaning that if the worst does happen, things keep working. It also gives BSHU the flexibility to explore public cloud options further down the line.

The new infrastructure has lowered BSUH’s costs by 25% since its adoption in 2011, but Arbuthnot claims that this was not the main reason for the IT overhaul. 

“Cost saving was a pleasant side effect of in-sourcing. It was about delivering an IT department that understood its users, that understood that what they did meant something to patient care,” he said.

“I won't say it's unique to the NHS having that sort of relationship, but I wanted the network administrator to feel like their role was vital to the care of the patient lying on a bed in the ITU (Intensive Treatment Unit) and whatever they did had a direct relationship to the outcome of that patient. We didn't get that from outsourcing.”