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Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust was established in April 2002 and authorised as a Foundation Trust on 1st December 2007. The Trust provides mental health services for adults and older people and substance misuse services for a population of around 1.4 million people in
The Trust's corporate headquarters is in
Back in 2007, Paul Kennelly, Senior IM&T Technician at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, helped to implement one such outside project – a backup solution located at a site in
Paul Kennelly explains: "The Trust's network infrastructure covers the whole of
The Fibre Channel backup system incorporates Symantec's Backup Exec, a Quantum tape library and Qlogic HBAs.
Security was a crucial factor. As Paul explains: "The security of patient and clinical data is of paramount importance – you don't want any Tom, Dick or Harry seeing it. We implement encryption on all our backup system – backup takes places to the 256 bit encryption level. In fact, we're something of a leader in this field as we've been implementing encryption for years."
Kennelly looked at both
In terms of the decision to use Fibre Channel connectivity, this was based on speed, as Paul details: "Fibre Channel offers us the maximum throughput, with IP connections you don't get the same speed. We are moving towards iSCSI for future projects, but, at the moment, our IP networks are generally oversubscribed, so iSCSI is not the best solution for backup. Long-term, iSCSI is probably the way to go, as Fibre Channel technology doesn't offer the same degree of flexibility, but there is a big trade-off. For quick backup, Fibre Channel is the market leader."
Paul adds: "We recently added a new VLAN dedicated for iSCSI/backup traffic, so as not to use the core data networks. Personally, I feel that Fibre Channel is the leader still, but will be superseded by iSCSI eventually, especially when 10GB networks are implemented."
The solution provider
Another crucial factor in deciding to go with the Quantum solution, was the influence of data storage company, Coolspirit. Initially involved with the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust as a tape media supplier across the organisation's whole region (a mixture of LTO1s, 3s and 4s), it was Coolspirit who brought Quantum's technology to Paul's attention.
Most importantly, it was the combination of Coolspirit's enthusiastic, knowledgeable and customer-focused approach that impressed Kennelly. As Paul puts it: "With the previous supplier, it was a real struggle for them to get back to us when we had any queries. We're a small IT department and rely on outside support, and can't wait indefinitely for someone to come back to us."
Following on from the initial success of the Warrington backup solution, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust has invested in a further two Quantum backup products via Coolspirit – the first, another tape library performing backup duties at the Preston headquarters site; the second, a DXi disk solution, initially used in a test environment at the Trust's Lancaster site.
At the present time, backups are done on a regional basis, and the Trust still uses tape for backup – it likes the idea of tapes being kept in a fireproof media safe offsite.
This is even the case at
Kennelly describes the DXi: "I call it a baby unit – but it can be scaled up. It's a 2/3U box, with 1 or 2 TB of storage. Once we'd installed the unit, we initially tried to use it with our Exchange servers, but the Quantum de-duplication capability didn't seem to work that well in this environment, as the majority of the data generated each day is unique. However, now installed with our file servers, the DXi and de-duplication works very well. For file servers, de-dupe is spot on – why re-invent the wheel?"
Paul adds: "In particular, we've noticed this on backups since the
The positive influence of Coolspirit has clearly been a significant help for Kennelly and the Trust as they look to obtain the best value for money required of any public organisation subjected to the closest scrutiny by its customers and the media.
"Thus far in our relationship, you can't fault Coolspirit," says Kennelly. "They're a very good company to talk to – when they say they'll do something, they do it, and they're very hungry to deliver."
He adds: "Whenever we've asked questions - whether it's been about sales, media, backup, or backup agents – they've been great. And Quantum's after sale support is of a comparably high level – I'm always impressed when someone from
Commenting on the Trust's decision to work closer with Coolspirit, Damon Robertson, Coolspirt's Sales Director, says: "We are very pleased that Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust chose the Quantum disk and tape solution, after evaluating the competitors' offerings. Three years ago our customers were asking for alternatives to tape due to the shrinking backup window, data growth and the inherent problems old tape libraries gave. However, now with the Quantum DXi disk, coupled with the Quantum i500 tape library, all these problems have been answered."
He continues: "Disk answers the immediate backup and restore issues and there is no better place for archive, disaster recovery, compliance and regulatory data than tape, especially with inbuilt encryption with LTO4 and capacities of 1.6tb."
With business continuity high on the agenda for all businesses at the present time – the recent Italian earthquake just the latest reminder that normality has a very fragile veneer between it and catastrophe, currently, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust is in the process of implementing a data replication (using mirroring) strategy across its two data centre sites in Preston. With the requirement to keep patient records for 30 years or more, the subsequent offloading of these records for archiving purposes is to be an integral part of the solution. The plan is to use iSCSI connected NetApp filers.
Longer term, Kennelly believes that storage consolidation - hence centralisation – is another Trust objective. He explains: "At the moment, we have one backup server per site. The time/throughput issue prevents centralised backup at the moment, so we manage backup traffic locally, via VLANs. But it makes sense to move towards a centralised solution."
Starting out as the Trust's tape media supplier, Coolspirit has now established itself as a key IT supplier to the organisation, helping to implement important backup projects. When the move to centralised backup begins, Coolspirit would seem ideally placed to offer its services and support once again.
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