CNWL NHS Foundation Trust meets cost-reduction mandates while innovating in multicloud

Using a combination of public, private and government cloud solutions, this healthcare trust has expanded its service capabilities while safeguarding sensitive data.

CNWL Industry Healthcare Challenge

CNWL was facing enormous pressure to meet a growing demand for its healthcare services and security for its mounting volume of patient data. It needed modern technological capabilities and greater data security.

Solutions Cloud Adoption & Migration, Rackspace Elastic Engineering, Multicloud, Public Cloud, Private Cloud Platforms ServiceNow, Cloud, Microsoft Azure, VMware

Our customer

Founded in 2002, the Central and North West London (CNWL) NHS Foundation Trust provides healthcare in London, Milton Keynes, Surrey and elsewhere. With a staff of over 8,500, it provides over 300 services in 150 locations, as well as 40 partner locations.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, CNWL treated people in their homes, clinics and hospitals. But during the pandemic, the organisation massively expanded its remote services. Service categories offered by the Trust include community health, sexual health, mental health, offender care and addictions and substance misuse services. CNWL is the second largest non-acute National Health Service (NHS) Trust in England.

“We developed a tremendous relationship with Rackspace Technology on our first project and trusted the team to provide us with all the technology we needed for our next stage of modernisation.”
Owen Powell, Director of ICT, CNWL NHS Foundation Trust

The obstacles they faced

CNWL’s guiding mission is to deliver the highest-quality patient care and offer a wide range of leading-edge services, and it depends on high-quality technologies to accomplish these goals. To better serve its patients, the organisation prioritizes continual improvement of its systems. But it faced significant constraints that prevented innovation.

“We had problems with capacity, storage, design and being able to expand and change our infrastructure quickly,” said Nigel Tazzyman, Deputy Director of ICT at NHS. “Our entire IT infrastructure was set within tight boundaries. Every time we wanted to make a change, it required a significant investment.”

Just prior to the pandemic, CNWL partnered with Rackspace Technology® to implement a long-term digital transformation project, starting with a migration from legacy systems to Rackspace Private cloud, and then moving to a multicloud IT environment via Rackspace Government Cloud on Microsoft® Azure®. When COVID-19 hit, the healthcare organisation put its transformation plans on hold and pivoted to focusing on supporting remote work and new models of patient care with the help of its Rackspace Technology team.

Following that rapid transition, CNWL was ready to resume its digital transformation journey. In particular, it needed modern systems that could support the ever-growing demand for its healthcare services. At the same time, CNWL also needed to be cautious about cloud deployments due to the enormous amount of sensitive patient healthcare data it processes on a daily, weekly and annual basis.

“We hold a lot of patient data, and the UK government’s personal data protection requirements are very strict,” explained Tazzyman. “So, it’s critical that we protect access to patient data, audit the access and know who’s accessing it at any point in time. If there’s a breach, there are serious consequences.”

a nurse on a laptop

“For the past three years, we’ve reduced our footprint, servers and workloads by about 20%. And we’ve reduced costs between 15% and 18% just through optimization.”

Nigel Tazzyman, Deputy Director of ICT, CNWL NHS Foundation Trust
two people looking at a laptop

How we helped

Once CNWL achieved its goals of supporting remote work and delivering remote patient care, it resumed its pre-pandemic transition from a legacy server-based system to multicloud. It wanted to split its workloads onto different clouds and align various workflows with their ideal cloud platforms.

With Rackspace Private Cloud already providing the flexibility, speed and resilience it needed to bring innovation to its services, CNWL also deployed a public cloud on Microsoft Azure to deliver some of its services. To help ensure optimised security for its vast stores of sensitive patient data, Rackspace Technology recommended Rackspace Government Cloud, a fully managed security platform-as-a-service.

“There were a number of reasons for choosing the government cloud solution,” said Tazzyman. “First is cost savings, because it’s not a big investment. Second is its high level of security. It gives us the benefit of built-in security at a government-mandated level. This means we don't have to worry as much about risk. The data is never outside of our healthcare environment.”

“In our public cloud environment, we’re leveraging the Azure platform, which works very well with our entire Microsoft stack,” said Owen Powell, CNWL’s Director of ICT. “The VMware component in the private cloud has been highly flexible, very efficient and extremely helpful in delivering our services. Our own engineering team was extremely helpful in determining our consumption needs and planning and designing the best multicloud model.”

To support a variety of optimization projects along its journey, CNWL relied heavily on the expert resources available through Rackspace Elastic Engineering. “This model has been very effective for us in building multidisciplinary teams to deliver our projects,” noted Powell. “Rackspace also helped us to streamline our IT Operations with their Service Management and ServiceNow solutions, which improved our end-to-end user journey.”

Modernising on multicloud helped CNWL reduce costs by 15% to 18%.

What we achieved together

Cloud services are increasingly crucial to how the NHS delivers its services throughout England. This commitment to the cloud has resulted in the creation of NHS’s Cloud Centre of Excellence (CCoE), designed to promote best practices, and drive the adoption of cloud services throughout its organizations. And CNWL is helping to lead the way.

Since expanding and optimising its multicloud infrastructure, CNWL has gained the agility and speed it needs to innovate. Among its innovations is a digital auditing application that allows clinicians to collect data on their phones or computers instead of using paper and pen. Another innovation is the use of QR codes on high-risk medications, which allows patients to watch videos instead of reading instructions.

“In the past, to create new applications we would need to first get approval to purchase a new server,” said TF Chan, Chief Pharmacist at CNWL. “That was a huge constraint on our time and budget. Now, the cloud makes it easier, faster and more cost effective for us to be innovative and make our staff members’ jobs easier and our patients’ lives better.”

“There’s always pressure on capacity and change in the NHS,” said Tazzyman. “In our multicloud environment, we can react to those changes quickly now. Previously, it would have taken weeks or months to deliver new technologies and infrastructure. Now we can often turn projects around in four to five days.”

CNWL found that multicloud provides an IT environment that is an order of magnitude better than its former on-premises environment. “It’s easy for us to spin up a new server, try something new, play with it and try to break it. If it proves the principle or doesn't work, we can either build it or close it down,” said Tazzyman.

“When we decided to move to multicloud, we had a strong vision about where we wanted to go,” said Powell. “We’ve been relentless in achieving that goal. Now, we want to continue to be leaders in this space, because we're seeing benefits all the way to our frontline.

“Rackspace Technology has been a true partner,” Powell added. “They’ve worked as an extension of our internal team. I don't think we would have made the progress we've made over the past four years without this partnership model. It has allowed us to deliver better and more care to our patients, which is, first and foremost, what we’re all about.”

About Rackspace Technology

Rackspace Technology is a hybrid, multicloud solutions expert. We combine our expertise with the world’s leading technologies — across AI, applications, data and security — to deliver end-to-end solutions. We have a proven record of advising customers based on their business challenges, designing solutions that scale, building and managing those solutions, and optimizing returns into the future. 

As a global hybrid, multicloud technology services pioneer, we deliver innovative capabilities to help customers build new revenue streams, increase efficiency and create incredible experiences. Named a best place to work, year after year according to Fortune, Forbes and Glassdoor, we attract and develop world-class talent to deliver the best expertise to our customers. Everything we do is wrapped in Fanatical Experience® — our obsession with customer success that drives us to help each customer work faster, smarter and stay ahead of what’s next. 


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