West Wales hospital cuts servers with virtualisation

West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen has gone from 40 servers down to three using a new centralised and virtualised IT infrastructure.

The National Health Service (NHS) hospital, part of the newly created Hywel Dda NHS Trust, is implementing a virtualised server and storage environment, reducing 40 servers down to three and cutting power and cooling requirements.

The system is also giving its doctors, nurses and clerical staff faster access to electronic and online resources.

And the new consolidated infrastructure will include real-time operation and data replication, providing a resilient platform for data storage, virtualisation and disaster recovery plans.

It will provide a foundation on which to centralise data access and management, in order to cut the time it takes users to login and access the patient administration and clinical systems.

"Our medical and clerical staff need to have a system that they can rely upon and access quickly," explains Paul Solloway, the Trust's IT services manager. "We're able to give our staff the best tools to work with while also building the foundations for future IT projects."

The hospital is working with long-term IT partner Esteem Systems on the infrastructure overhaul to provide reliable and fast access to clinical information so medical and clerical staff will be able to provide improved levels of service to patients.

Esteem will design and implement a new 4.8-terabyte NetApp storage area network (SAN) at West Wales General Hospital's primary data centre.

This will be mirrored to a secondary data centre at Prince Phillip General Hospital in Llanelli and supported by an automated disaster recovery system, using snapshot technology for instantaneous recovery time to ensure the security and availability of clinical information.

The rest of the infrastructure will include Microsoft SQL Server 2000 and Windows Deployment Services, as well as VMware enterprise software, web servers and network management components.

Solloway added: "Our in-house IT department will also benefit from seamless, rapid deployment and upgrades of servers, which can be done with zero downtime. This will not only save us time and make upgrade management easier, but also means that there will be no disruptions to clerical and medical staff using our systems."

"With faster access and a higher level of service, users will notice a marked improvement to their working day, which in turn will lead to improved services to patients," he said.

West Wales General Hospital and Prince Philip Hospital are part of Hywel Dda NHS Trust, created on 1 April 2008 through the merger of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion & Mid Wales and Pembrokeshire & Derwen NHS Trusts.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.