Logicalis helps Capita IB Solutions upgrade its infrastructure to support mission-critical NHS systems.
Capita IB Solutions, part of the Capita Group, are the largest provider of financial management and procurement systems to the NHS. Capita IB Solutions provides healthcare, public sector and not-for-profit organisations with solutions for back office business functions - including procurement, inventory and financial management - which integrate with other health-specific applications, such as patient administration and patient billing.
Since 2002, Capita IB Solutions has provided a major supplier of financial shared services to the NHS with a fully hosted managed service. The latter provides services such as accounts payable, debt collection, bank account reconciliation and account reporting for 30% of NHS trusts. In March 2010, the client extended its contract with Capita IB Solutions to host its Oracle finance and purchasing applications until 2016. As well as increasing the value of the original agreement by £6m, this extended the services offered by Capita IB Solutions to include new HP hardware and infrastructure, plus an upgrade to Oracle R12 for improved business intelligence and financial reporting purposes.
“The extension of our partnership with this client clearly indicates the strength of the relationship between our two organisations, says Peter Deakin, Oracle Operations Manager at Capita IB Solutions. It also highlights our joint expertise in delivering services to NHS trusts - allowing up to 3,000 users at any given time to gain real value and make significant savings from Oracle-based applications.
“Our client runs Oracle E-Business Suite and wished to move to Release 12 of the software on behalf of more than 100 NHS organisations it supports. Our task was to put in place the necessary infrastructure and to demonstrate the very best value for money at a time when healthcare organisations are under increasing pressure to streamline back office processes and reduce spending, while also maintaining high-quality operations.”
To this end, Capita IB Solutions called upon its long-term ICT infrastructure support partner Logicalis to assist with the design and implementation of the most suitable hardware solution. Working closely with his team, Deakin says Logicalis produced in the region of 60 different hardware configurations in order to define the perfect solution - one that would ensure maximum performance and availability for the many NHS organisations to whom this complex infrastructure is mission-critical.
“From a technical perspective, we needed to upgrade from our existing PA-RISC based processor technology as spares were likely to become scarce following HP’s launch of its Integrity hardware range which is based on Itanium instruction set architecture (ISA),“ says Deakin. “Ours is a mission-critical environment where downtime can attract heavy financial penalties, so we needed a high performance platform that would allow us to quickly upgrade when taking on new services on behalf of clients.”
With cost versus benefit uppermost in mind, the final configuration agreed with the client therefore comprises an Integrity RX8640 HP-UX high availability database server, plus a number of HP-UX Blade servers running financial applications, web portals and reporting systems.
“Logicalis helped us create a design that will enable us to grow – one that is sized correctly for high performance now and in the future,” says Deakin. “As part of the solution, they also proposed and helped us implement a new tool called HP Virtual Connect, which will enable us to be extremely flexible when provisioning hardware to meet our shared services client’s needs.
“It’s a fantastic piece of technology that allows us to virtualise the I/O on our servers by introducing a virtualisation layer between the servers, the network and the storage devices. As well as reducing cables and saving work for server, LAN and SAN administrators, it virtualises connections to the outside world, enabling us to make changes without impacting other systems - all in a matter of minutes rather than days, as was often the case previously.”
At the time, Deakin says there were very few individuals outside HP with experience of this technology. “However, Logicalis came in and did a superb job. They were instrumental in maximising the use of this innovative technology by quickly skilling up my team - as well as delivering on budget and significantly ahead of challenging timescales. For its part, HP Integrity technology - in conjunction with Virtual Connect - has given us a huge amount of flexibility, high performance and resilience, enabling us to deliver value for money and meet our client’s mission-critical business needs.”
Capita IB Solutions have been impressed by the amount of time and effort Logicalis invested in understanding its business and the range of services it delivers to the client. “It meant they were ideally placed to propose a technical solution that met our need for a highly resilient, high performance infrastructure to support the business critical services running on it,” says Deakin.
“What’s more, being a multi-vendor supplier, Logicalis is always able to propose alternative hardware configurations from several manufacturers. So whilst on this occasion we again selected HP, they were able to justify the case alongside comparative solutions from other vendors. Unlike many other service providers, they were able to give us more than one view of the world when arriving at the ideal solution.
He says the Logicalis team demonstrated total commitment during a very lengthy procurement process. “For instance, on more than one occasion I called them on a Friday evening and had a new configuration on my desk by Monday morning. Fast turnarounds and dedication of this kind have enabled us to continue helping our shared services client to deliver consistently high service quality and performance to their NHS clients.
Capita IB Solutions’ maintenance contracts with HP are also managed by Logicalis. “As part of this project, they successfully negotiated with HP a significant reduction in the cost of our legacy hardware maintenance. This has probably saved us in the region of £500k in the cost of running the existing equipment while we gradually migrate to the new servers over the next two years - a saving we’re able to pass directly back to our client.” according to Deakin.
“At the end of the day, Logicalis’ flexibility of approach, in-depth knowledge of the HP product set, and strong relationship with the manufacturer meant they were fundamental to the success of this project,” concludes Deakin.
More Information on Capita IB Solutions