Building Robust Infrastructure for the Southeast Coast Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust.

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Published 09-Nov-2018 10:40:56
Resilient infrastructure for South East Coast Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust

The South East Coast Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust’s legacy infrastructure and proprietary computer-aided dispatch platform was constraining its overall performance, response times and disaster recovery capability. It approached Vohkus to design and implement a highly-resilient and performant replacement solution.


South East Coast Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) covers a geographical area of 3,600 square miles and employs over 3,300 staff working across 110 sites in Kent, Surrey and Sussex. Its single site legacy infrastructure and proprietary computer-aided dispatch platform were hampering its aims of improving efficiency and reducing response times, and required considerable manual intervention for disaster recovery (DR) purposes.

SECAmb approached Vohkus to design and implement a highly resilient and performant replacement solution. The project involved migrating from the legacy platform to an open system architecture capable of supporting virtualisation and providing built-in DR functionality.

The project 

Vohkus consultants co-ordinated a series of design and planning workshops to ascertain the feasibility of the overall project, to examine the plethora of third party interdependencies, and to determine the specification of hardware required to cater for current and future workloads. Vohkus also carried out audits of the existing systems, analysis of patterns and workloads, and stakeholder and line-of-business interviews before recommending a single solution that would incorporate elements from multiple specialist vendors. 

Vohkus project managed the implementation, the migration of services and data, and decommissioning of the old system. The new architecture used HPE blades for compute services, communicating through dedicated fibre channel fabrics to EMC storage. This, in turn, communicated with a separate DR site using an EMC RecoverPoint appliance capable of rolling points in time back and forward. This approach dramatically reduced the recovery time objectives (RTO) that could be achieved. Agility and manageability were achieved through virtualisation using VMware, with Site Recovery Manager enabling seamless business continuity failover between sites. For further DR capability and compliance, Symantec/Veritas backup software was added to replicate data between sites and onto tape.

Technology to support a vital service IT projects typically adhere to success criteria such as cost reduction, increased performance, ease of use and reducing management overheads. While all these were achieved through the SECAmb project, the ultimate objective was to help save lives. SECAmb now has a highly resilient system with no single point of failure, capable of helping reduce response times, meeting compliance criteria, and ensuring constant IT service availability.


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