Getting Cloud Smart Doesn’t Have To Be A Stormy Experience For NHS Trusts

Andy Riley, Director of Sales discusses how NHS Trusts can successfully move to the public cloud.

The last year has forced organisations worldwide to adapt how they deliver services to employees and customers. Driven by the ongoing digital transformation of the healthcare sector and supercharged by what we’ve seen during the pandemic, NHS England recently declared a move to a public cloud first strategy. For many Trusts, this is a significant shift. Success will require them to become ‘cloud smart’.

The introduction of NHSmail, built on Microsoft 365, means that soon 2.1M mailboxes will be hosted in the cloud, enabling the NHS to take advantage of new collaboration tools in Microsoft Teams. Being cloud-based, NHSmail will automatically update the latest version of Microsoft 365, equipping users with the latest tools and software. Immediately.

Cloud projects of this magnitude may seem daunting but the good news is that support is available to Trusts to make the transition to public cloud pain-free. Cloud migration specialists can advise and manage throughout the whole process, much like a consultant would oversee the care of a patient. With that in mind, we’ve created a pre-emptive ‘treatment plan’ outlining the core areas for NHS Trusts to focus on when migrating services to the public cloud.

Planning is key to smart cloud success

Before any move to public cloud, NHS Trusts must review their existing IT infrastructure and applications in advance. This will help ensure that they are correctly charged for usage and reduce the likelihood of unforeseen surprises as migration gets underway.

Selecting the correct cloud licencing model is also vital. Choosing the wrong one could result in unplanned charges, whereas the right one can mean significant savings vs existing on-premise solutions. For instance, estimating the correct amount of data usage, users and storage requirements will impact on costs and performance of public cloud resources.

Secondly, assessing application usage, configuration and interdependencies will help avoid headaches come ‘moving day’. After-all, you don’t want to end up with corrupted databases or offline applications which stop staff and patients being able to access services. Here is where cloud migration experts can help by undertaking a health check, to identify problems before they happen.

Secure from the start

Cybersecurity is also an important consideration. Patients expect NHS Trusts to keep their data safe, so it needs to be stored in-line with public cloud best practice. Trusts should put in place backups and configure their cloud environments to minimise their exposure and the potential impact of a cyberattack. NHS Trusts, with information that is not just personal but also sensitive and critical, cannot afford to ignore the risks associated with data stored in the public cloud and should evaluate suitable options for protection and recovery. Doing so during the early stages of implementation can pay dividends later; a system that is secure by design offers greater resiliency – prevention will always be better than the cure!

A healthy outlook

Migrating services to public cloud bring won’t be a small undertaking for many NHS Trusts. But there are opportunities for serious cost savings vs existing on-premise solutions, as well as less downtime, and better use of data – which is often more accessible when saved in the cloud. What’s more, utilising outside expertise can help reduce the pressure on internal IT teams, whilst ensuring best practice is followed from start to finish.

This article was originally published in Public Sector Focus Magazine May/June 2021.