The NHS Wales Business Services Centre (BSC) is part of Powys Local Health Board and provides “shared services” to support 22 Local Health Boards (LHBs) and other clients across NHS Wales in delivering services. It operates across 4 locations.
In the sensitive and data rich environment of the NHS, handling, managing and accessing multiple databases is a regular activity that drives the business forward.
However, as databases organically grow and the demands placed upon them increase, it is apparent that the supporting infrastructure must continue to exceed demand to maintain service delivery.
Delivery of services through NHS Wales BSC is underpinned by the National Health Application & Infrastructure Services (NHAIS) system, which is implemented across 89 Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities.
The BSC in Wales inherited five databases accessed by over 1200 staff and hosted on 6 stand alone HPE9000 D class servers spread across Wales.
It became apparent that there was a need to consolidate the NHAIS application and build in improved resilience.
The brief acknowledged a need for the solution to be flexible and resilient in hosting new services well into the future.
MCSA designed a two site solution that rationalised six databases across two new data centres located at Swansea and Pontypool. Each site uses three HPE Integrity Blade servers with a further development server located in Cardiff. The Blade and EVA infrastructure has been designed to facilitate backup functionality for disc-to-disc and site-to-site replication to improve business continuity and Disaster
“We have consolidated our data centre estate by 50% and reduced our server footprint by 83%, with inherent savings in power of 30%, cooling 30% and a 60% reduction in maintenance costs.
Our team has recognised a steep change in performance. Our processing throughput has improved by 600%.” said Andrew MacBean, Regional IM&T Manager at Wales BSC. “With site-to-site replication we have greater resilience and security.
If one site goes down we can transfer to another very quickly to maintain business continuity. Backup is now over 400% quicker and issues associated with trucking critical and sensitive tape based data are long gone thanks to remote site disc-to-disc backup.” “The BSC’s Disaster Recovery has become much smarter. We have improved confidence thanks to the capability to test and run from one single site in the event of a disaster.
Previously we couldn’t do that.” “In terms of patient service delivery, this latest development has enabled staff across 22 Local Health Boards shared access to new functionality through the patient demographic service.
“Access to this central spine means medical professionals can provide a more efficient service. Fundamentally, without this access we simply couldn’t meet aspirations for day to day business. “There have been a number of key learnings but this solution could now be used as a model for roll-out throughout the NHS”