Three NHS Trusts were proposing to roll out the same application to just a small number of staff, but over time the scope would grow to thousands of users. The objective of the application was to streamline processes, increase efficiency and control costs. It was therefore essential that the cost of installation and on-going management and maintenance of the application was in line with this and carefully controlled.
The obvious solution for the internal IT team would have been a single shared system, but there were operational issues relating to the internal infrastructure that made this difficult to deliver. Additionally, the capital costs of building a scalable platform were huge and beyond the realistic spend of a carefully controlled IT budget. Add to this the estimated six month lead time to implement an internal solution and the project started to become an untenable option for the NHS Trust consortium.
Following a recommendation from the author of the software, the decision was made to externally host the staffing application with an external partner.
Security was at the top of the agenda. Staff needed the option to access the system from within the secure N3 network and from their home locations via the internet. With this in mind, BrightCloud designed a data protected solution using Citrix NetScaler, the Gartner Magic Quadrant recommended application delivery controller. This would broker secure access to the application without a direct connection, while still allowing remote access to the application from users on their home internet connection. This also ensured that the NHS consortium was compliant with IGSoc guidelines.
BrightCloud designed an initial cloud – based framework with shared SQL resources; this immediately minimised infrastructure and license costs. Three application servers were then added to guarantee fast performance to the entire user community. This scalable cloud meant BrightCloud could plan the database, starting with the initial low number of users, but with the scope to scale to a considerable system as demand grew. With continued collaboration, it was later decided to move the consortium to three separate database servers.
This build approach meant that the consortium would only pay monthly for the IT resources it was actually using. It’s also quick and easy to scale up (or down) as resource needs change, allowing the consortium to start small and remain in control of costs.
Once the design of the hosted infrastructure was agreed with the consortium and software provider, BrightCloud took just five days to set up a tested system ready for the initial pilot phase.
The pilot phase took longer than anticipated as users got used to the new application and processes, but this meant that the launch phase was very smooth. It also proved that being able to access the system remotely helped enormously and users liked the option they now had to work from any access device, from anywhere and at any time.