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back to article NHS Trust ditches in-house servers, chucks 15TB into the cloud

NHS Trust Mersey Care is trying to eke out 15 per cent cost savings by ditching its in-house server farm in favour of SCC's OptimiseCloud platform. Mersey is the first NHS Trust in England to jump into the cloud, and is one of nine under the guidance of Informatics Merseyside, a central buying agency which signed a cloud …

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Anonymous Coward

%15 short term saving now

300% more expensive than it would have been to improve the existing internal systems when they realise it is much better to have important things like that in-house and so have to bring it all back again a few years after your existing equipment has been scrapped and you have got rid of the staff who understood it.

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Bronze badge

Re: %15 short term saving now

Moving stuff out of internal departments is usually nothing but madness.

You're basically going to be paying an outside company to do the job your IT guys were having to do (including buying all the same, or better, equipment) *AND* then make a profit on top from you. Short of some economy-of-scale (which doesn't tend to happen with such software, storage and availability requirements), you are always going to end up paying more than just doing it yourself. Those IT guy pensions you save money on this year? That outside company is now paying the same or better to their IT guys and then charging you 10-50% on top.

Now this is a lot of data and connectivity to have, but I still fail to see why they couldn't just, for example, rent a load of servers with a similar SLA and have their IT guys run it remotely? Same thing and you get internal oversight by your own people, and to have your own "backup" on-site without relying on a third-party company? And you don't have to pay for someone else's profit margins.

Just about every decision I see to get outside people to do the job of former inside people ends up the same way. Unless there are economies-of-scale which you absolutely cannot take advantage of any other way (or, say, you get the software for free like my workplace - a school - which now use free Google Apps For Education for their stuff rather than paying 1&1 to hold our email for us) then you're just paying for someone else to do the same job with the same hardware (or worse) AND take home 20%.

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Anonymous Coward

My concern is more about privacy. Who owns the data? What locations is the data stored in. Can unauthorised people view that data. and various others in regards to data protection.

That is..Can the US gain that data if its stored on servers based in the us, pending the political view points of the time

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re privacy

This would be my concern too; but if you discount "the cloud" as marketingdrone speak:

SCC is an English company and has satisfied the govt w.r.t. security etc. So unless they plan some undisclosed further outsourcing, this is really just leasing a bunch of managed servers a few miles down the road. The NHS Trust still remains responsible for Data Protection matters. I expect that the main leakage would be unauthorised access from Health Service terminals.

I still think this outsourcing is dumb though. The could surely have saved more by rationalising their server numbers and doing some serious thinking about stuff.

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Facepalm

15% saving is not taking the big picture into account

So it costs 15% less, you then end up needing less staff and other local resources. Those resourses pay TAX and NI and that is used to pay the NHS. So how much has been lost via TAX, NI and VAT to quantify this saving!

So saving 15% directly whilst for the accounts and other driving factors is great and makes these things happen it is not a real 15% saving longterm/big picture and with that we are not even touching about the issue of offloading your IT data protection responsibilities into the cloud, mostly to companies that are bound by entirely different laws.

Smells of seagull managment as they are the ones making these descions and sadly from an account basis they are right, albiet they are so wrong when you do a envirmental impact stufy of the move in regards to true savings for the area and the country as a whole. But by design that is a flaw and mentality of goverments who get profit making companies, privatise them and give that profit income to private individuals instead of for everybody and yet everybody pays more.

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This post has been deleted by its author

FAIL

NHS is one of the organisations that big and ugly enough to roll their own "cloud" (= shared) services in house, rather than outsourcing to companies that - as rightly pointed out in these comments - need the same equipment and staff to provide the service AND make a healthy looking profit on top.

Why people in charge of NHS stuff - particularly Informatics Merseyside if they look after 9 trusts - don't understand and get the balls required to roll their own, free of any profits required to be made.

After all it sounds like SCC are offering the extremely complicated service of 15tb worth of disk space.

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Bronze badge

People in charge of important stuff hardly ever understand much, and are almost always too stupid to ask.

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Would that 15% be the salaries of the staff that they can now fire?

Extrapolating from what I've seen a few times in the comms side of things, I'm guessing that the story so far is:

A manager wanting to furthjer inflate his reputation, worked out that techies are expensive, and only ever came to him with problems, so why not kill two birds with one stone, push the things they look after into "the cloud", then fire all the people that can diagnose who's to blame in case of failure, thus making sure that it takes as long as possible for the sevice providers faults to come to light.

Coming soon in the next exciting episode:

Our manager hero gets an award from SocITM for his cloudy prowess, and makes a quick exit to the next oportunity for an even bigger SNAFU on a larger salary, sortly before it becomes apparent that his supposed stroke of genius has resulted in nobody being able to access their data on occasion, and a casualty or two.

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Anonymous Coward

Income tax and national insurance?

That argument would hold true in a private company but the people potentially being dispensed with are public employees. Public employees don't pay income tax, everyone else pays it for them. So the tax and NI saved is truly saved from the point of view of the taxpayer.

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Trollface

Re: Income tax and national insurance?

I call troll - ALL public employees pay tax and NI on their earnings. Anyone who still doesn't realise this is far ignorant to be reading a site like El Reg, even Daily Fail readers mostly know that.

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xmm

15tb on 90(!!!) serves? somebody has not done its virtualisation exercise the density of data per server is impressively low! seems an outdated infrastrcutre

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Alert

Ooops

I guess this means 90 less servers being bought at some point in the future......

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This post has been deleted by its author

Bronze badge

Fifteen whole terabytes.

ZOMG .You can only just squeeze that onto FOUR hard disks.

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Linux

Tiny bead of sweat...

I always get a slight tingle in the back of my neck putting a large payload of very important, very sensitive, very confidential on servers. 'Specially when it's not in my datacentre downstairs. 'Specially when somebody else has the keys to the cabinets.

Maybe I'm just needy like that. Yep, that must be it.

In a disaster, whatever theoretical savings were on the Powerpoint slides will go straight up the chimney (along with savings-presentation_final.ppt). In disasters, the incredible, the truly unbelievable, always happens. RBS? Anyone?

As mentioned, they are more than big enough to do massive storage volumes themselves and prolly for not that much money either.

I wish I lived in a world where the public sector was really confident of its skills and was the torch carrier for computer science and engineering.

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IT Angle

Challenges

This solution solves only one problem, which is essentially environmental. It is up to trusts to start realising the importance of IT infrastructure and making investment in local Tier 4 datacentres. Managed environments at least have SLA agreements whereas local on site server rooms are often subjected to local issues like:

- power provision: everyone in IT knows that nearly all local estates/facilities departments are struggling with power. You don't just replace legacy dumb terminals with localised computing at no wattage cost. That's the client end, then most trusts have some sort of NetAPP/EMC backend as well which sucks power and that's not to mention PoE as well.

- Air con: I've yet to see any NHS datacentre that has not suffered problems with air con or is running with an N+1 configuration, the cash is not there. Most places lose one unit then it's a biog panic with small units and fans being brought in.

Space: You leave an empty rack and it gets filled with some projects or other.

There's a lot of negativity about this - if it's not a fully managed service (and there's no indication it is), and the local staff are still managing remote resources then there is no issue. It's no different to sitting at a management office and dialling into servers and equipment there. The cost-benefit analysis would have been interesting though.

There si also the political angle. From a sales and service selling point of view, this company can now offer 'cloud' services. It's a buzzword like VDI but they can incorporate it into their marketing strategy, probably selling more services which will more than likely keep these 'at risk' people in jobs (if they are any good and are receptive to re-training).

The NHS IT function is changing. We're not SME any more, we are enterprise and there are rarely local facilities to host such a challenging environment. If the local trusts do not plan this into their PFI ventures and create dedicated centres then this will be more and more common. The challenge will be convincing trusts they need a local IT Dept. still if they are essentially getting their services from private industry.

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