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Providing health services to around 500,000 people in Somerset and Wiltshire, Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust (RUHB) encompasses four Clinical Commissioning Groups. Located close to Bath city centre, the Trust has almost 800 beds and delivers acute treatment and ongoing care to the local population.
It employs more than 4,500 staff and is committed to delivering the highest quality A&E, outpatient, diagnostic and same-day clinical services. As with any modern health care provider, performant IT infrastructure plays an essential role in its ability to deliver effective services and improve patient outcomes.
- 4,500 staff serving a 500,000 population
- Provider of high-quality clinical services
- IT infrastructure essential to service provision
When Liam Abbot, Chief Technology Officer at Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, joined RUHB three years ago he inherited a fragmented datacentre and networking infrastructure. “Our existing on-premise datacentre infrastructure and computer networking had been built on and augmented with disparate technologies over a number of years,” said Liam.
“Managing both the technologies and the multiple vendors that provided them was becoming increasingly time-consuming, complex and costly. We’re a relatively small IT team and we lack specific data storage expertise. The legacy infrastructure also made it more difficult to manage from a systems, security and governance perspective. All in all, it was becoming difficult to maintain the critical IT services the Trust relies upon. We realised we needed to replace what we had with a solution with the capacity to scale and enable one-click upgrades, simplify systems management and drive down ongoing costs.”
Critical success factors
- Simplify legacy datacentre and computer networking provision
- Enable more robust systems management, security and governance
- Drive down ongoing costs
“Liam reached out to Softcat and explained what RUHB was trying to achieve,” said Nathan Dodds, Softcat Healthcare Account Director. “With our in-house expertise we were confident we could source a solution capable of delivering the functionality demanded by a healthcare setting at a price that was competitive.” “Softcat wasn’t the only potential provider we reached out to.” said Liam, “In all, 16 providers were involved in the bidding process, but the preparatory work Softcat completed was particularly impressive. Its initial tender response enabled us to properly evaluate its proposed solution and successfully scope out how it could fulfil our specific requirements.”
Softcat recommended an ‘out-of-the-box’ hyper-converged Nutanix solution alongside Rubrik backup technologies. It based the recommendation on the impressive track record Nutanix has built within the healthcare sector and the high levels of support its dedicated specialists deliver. Similarly, Rubrik offers next-generation backup and disaster recovery (DR) solutions that have been proven within the sector, simplify compliance with wider NHS data standards and offer excellent value for money.
“Following an evaluation phase where we closely examined the individual offerings, Softcat was shortlisted and asked to provide a demonstration of its proposed solution,” said Liam. “Although price was important, ensuring it could deliver the capabilities we needed was the main driver. We have to comply with multiple NHS-wide policies and strategies – migrating, where possible, to cloud-based services for instance – so we needed assurance that the solution would be fit for purpose.
“The demo played a critical role in the final decision. It clearly illustrated how the solution could deliver the functionality we needed and backed up the information contained in Softcat’s written response. It really was a proof-of-concept moment. We were able to witness first-hand how easy it was to update a server, for instance, and it gave senior management the confidence it needed to approve the purchase.
“Softcat’s team of specialists clearly put plenty of work into every aspect of its tender response and delivered recordings of the interactive demonstration sessions to help us make a rational and informed decision. It went to great lengths to provide as much information as possible and the quality of the whole package, which included professional services to assist with implementation, helped secure the deal.”
- Detailed solution proposal and comprehensive scoping analysis
- Interactive evaluation phase and informative demonstration sessions
- Industry-leading Nutanix hyper-converged solution, combined with next-gen Rubrik backup technologies
RUHB now has a future-ready IT estate that positions it to confidently migrate to cloud-based services in line with the wider NHS policies and strategies. With improved functionality, seamless integration with existing on-premise technologies, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) clusters and the capacity to support essential collaborative tools such as Microsoft Teams, it has minimised the time the in-house IT team needs to maintain critical IT services.
“My main priorities were to consolidate disparate technologies and suppliers into a single harmonious offering and achieve ongoing cost savings,” said Liam. “Softcat’s solution has enabled us to do just that. Maintaining seven different on-premise servers, for instance, placed significant strain on the resources we had at our disposal. With the new solution in place, those resources can be redirected elsewhere to help improve the overall service we deliver.
“We now have much more robust resilience and DR capabilities. And the ability to scale the solution simply and quickly has proved critical in enabling us to respond effectively to the increased demand for collaborative tools like Teams during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. It’s not an exaggeration to say that we would have struggled to maintain the levels of essential services we have delivered without the solution in place.”
The solution was procured through the NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) Digital Workplace Solutions framework which offers a wide range of IT solutions, including hardware, software and professional services, to aid NHS and wider public sector organisations in their digitisation journey, whilst satisfying their procurement requirements in an efficient and cost-effective way. The specialist framework ensures that these organisations can access services easily from approved, industry-leading suppliers.
“Purchasing through the NHS SBS framework saved us a lot of time and energy,” said Liam. “For a small team, researching and evaluating potential solutions can be onerous, yet using the framework meant we were free to concentrate on the functionality and resilience the solution could deliver to meet our specific business needs. It also represented tremendous value. The solution will deliver around a 50% reduction in planned expenditure over a three-year period, money that can now be re-directed elsewhere to support essential clinical services.”
Benefits at a glance
- Future-ready IT estate leveraging cloud-based technologies
- Enhanced resilience, functionality and collaboration capabilities
- Significant time and cost savings enabling IT to focus on business-critical tasks
“As mentioned above, we chose Softcat because of the all-round strength of its offering,” said Liam. “Our Account Director put in the time and effort to bring in specialist knowledge from across the Softcat team to help with the project. Knowledgeable professionals like Chris Leigh, Softcat Datacentre and Cloud specialist and Ian Burgoyne, Softcat Licensing specialist were consulted as part of the process. Their knowledge meant they could drill down into our specific requirements and ensure that the proposed solution would suit our needs. With this added input it was a case of ‘show me what you need, and we’ll ensure you get the right technologies.’ It’s a prime example of the comprehensive oversight of the whole end-to-end process Softcat brings to the table – and just as importantly, how it leverages its in-house capabilities to deliver added value.
“Of course, the financial savings were massively important, but the pre-engagement work and continuous support Softcat provides sets it apart from the competition. It isn’t scared of accountability and makes sure it delivers on its promises to maintain its hard-won reputation.”