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Sussex Health Informatics Service

Sussex HIS manages more than 25,000 devices at hundreds of locations. By implementing Novell ZENworks Configuration Management, Sussex HIS has enabled full remote maintenance and automated software distribution–saving costs and contributing, ultimately, to improved clinical care.

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About Sussex Health Informatics Service

The UK National Health Service (NHS) employs 1.3 million people and operates more than 800,000 pieces of IT equipment. Sussex Health Informatics Service (HIS) is responsible for the IT infrastructures of all 10 Sussex NHS Trusts, including the NHS South East Coast Strategic Health Authority (SHA). The HIS employs around 350 people and provides various services, including the maintenance and support of more than 25,000 PCs and other devices at General Practitioners' (GPs') surgeries, hospitals and clinics throughout the county.

Challenge

The National Programme for IT (NPfIT) rates NHS Trusts’ IT infrastructures against national guidelines, using the NHS Infrastructure Maturity Model (NIMM), to ensure consistent improvements in performance. Sussex Health Informatics Service (HIS) was established to provide effective IM&T services and to meet the challenges of NPfIT. Sussex HIS became responsible for supporting 997 central servers and more than 25,000 PCs and other network devices. This was a significant challenge: there was no easy way to manage all the hardware from a central point of control, and it was difficult even to understand what assets were on the network.

"We did not know how many systems we had, where they were, how they were configured or what software they were running," said Steve Orman, Technical Director at Sussex HIS. "Creating an asset register and subsequently managing systems by conducting site visits would have been prohibitively expensive. The result was that we were unable to meet the NPfIT requirements."

Novell Solution

With hundreds of sites across a 3,600 sq km area, visiting each PC to provide support or install applications and patches was clearly not a realistic proposition.

"In the past, HIS staff would often attend a site in response to a user call, only to find that the issue could be resolved in just a few minutes," said Steve Orman. "Travel time was eating into IT department productivity, and caused delays in fixing even the simplest problems."

Working with NHS Connecting for Health (CfH), Sussex HIS reviewed possible remote management solutions, and selected Novell ZENworks® Configuration Management. Because CfH has entered into an enterprise licence agreement with Novell, Sussex HIS was able to deploy Novell ZENworks at no direct cost to Sussex HIS customers.

Sussex HIS created a central service desk and has deployed Novell ZENworks Configuration Management to more than 22,000 PCs, including those in 280 GP practices. This is the largest single deployment of the Novell solution globally, and a flagship success for the NHS NPfIT.

Novell ZENworks Configuration Management enables the IT support team at Sussex HIS to see and manage all connected devices at each location, and enables secure remote access and application deployment. Sussex HIS can use this information to provide comprehensive and accurate infrastructure details to its customers on demand.

"When users call, the service desk is able to use Novell ZENworks Configuration Management to determine system setup, application status and much more," said Andy Bissenden, Technical Manager. "In a very large number of cases, no site visit is required, as the service desk agents at Sussex HIS are able to take control of the remote PC and apply suitable fixes and patches remotely. Our remote fix time has fallen from 3 days on average to just 12 minutes!"

Results

When complete, the Novell ZENworks deployment will encompass more than 25,000 devices, including 997 servers and many thousands of desktop PCs and notebooks running Windows. The result will be a faster, more reliable IT support service for all of the NHS users in Sussex. Resolving most support issues no longer depends on the availability of Sussex HIS staff for site visits, and fixes are completed remotely using Novell ZENworks.

With less need to visit sites, travel expenses at Sussex HIS are decreasing–and its carbon footprint is shrinking too.

With data sourced from Novell ZENworks Configuration Management, Sussex HIS is able to answer enquiries from NHS Trusts on their IT assets and infrastructure condition within a matter of minutes. This information helps the NHS Trusts and Sussex HIS achieve higher ratings in NIMM assessments, one of the key objectives of the Sussex HIS operation. Sussex HIS plans to introduce the full Novell ZENworks Asset Management solution at a later date, together with Novell ZENworks Patch Management.

"I was impressed with the way Novell approached the scale and the unique challenges of the NHS, and pulled out all the stops to deliver great results," said Steve Orman. "Novell ZENworks Configuration Management is a really comprehensive package: its integrated inventory management, remote access and software delivery capabilities are ideal for our needs."

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