Nuffield Health embarks upon cloud-first IT strategy

Nuffield Health deploys UK-wide SD-WAN with Silver Peak as it embarks upon a cloud-first IT strategy

As enterprise applications migrate from the corporate data centre to the cloud, it is becoming increasingly clear that private line connections, such as multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), are not built for Internet-based environments. With the internet redefining how businesses operate, companies are now realising that the opportunity to operate at ‘cloud speed’ is better served by integrating broadband services into the WAN transport mix.

One of those companies is a leading not-for-profit healthcare organisation, Nuffield Health, which was becoming frustrated with the impact its legacy MPLS WAN was having on the performance of its network. Since the company wanted to embark upon a cloud-first IT strategy, Nuffield Health turned to deploy a Silver Peak SD-WAN solution.

Background

As a widely-distributed organisation, with two data centres and around 20,000 users across more than 260 sites throughout the UK – including 31 hospitals, 111 fitness and wellbeing gyms, and 121 corporate fitness and well-being centres – Nuffield Health was finding that its legacy MPLS WAN was struggling to connect its users to business-critical cloud-based applications. They include Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications such as TrakCare for Electronic Medical Records and Office365, as well as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) applications including Microsoft Azure.

“As a not-for-profit healthcare organisation with sites located across the UK, our staff rely heavily on data-critical applications to care for patients and to meet the needs of our customers,” said Dan Morgan, IT operations director at Nuffield Health. “Whether it’s accessing digital images on the operating table, or using the latest high-tech gym equipment, it was clear that our existing network infrastructure wasn’t up to scratch. As such, we required a reliable WAN solution that would improve network performance and securely support our cloud-first IT strategy.”

SD-WAN saves the day

Following a review of its WAN usage, Nuffield Health found that more than 60% of its WAN traffic was already being backhauled to the internet, rather than to its two data centres, which was significantly impacting network performance. As such, Nuffield Health turned to SD-WAN for a WAN edge architecture that would intelligently and securely route WAN traffic over the internet based on application-driven policies, without degrading performance.

Having considered other technology on the market, Nuffield Health selected an SD-WAN solution, for its high performance and cost, as well as the ability to support seamless service chaining with third-party firewalls for intelligent internet breakout, which will improve SaaS application performance, while keeping its branches secure.

Lessons learned

As a result of the deployment, Nuffield Health is now able to run dual internet links to its branches, with some sites able to run on 4G LTE for connectivity until its fibre internet service is delivered. The company has reduced WAN traffic by up to 75% and saw a 4-6x increase in bandwidth. In addition, the organisation further benefitted from a fast SD-WAN deployment. Indeed, the company installed SD-WAN at 189 sites in just four months. On average, it connected 15 sites per week, which peaked at 27 sites in one week.

“We have been really impressed with the positive impact on our network, but the speed of deployment was a massive bonus,” continues Morgan. “We also have complete visibility and complete control into our network, meaning that we can see how SaaS and IaaS are being used within the organisation. This level of cloud intelligence is critical to our organisation as we continue to embrace new healthcare technologies available in the market, and this will only serve to improve the health of our patients and customers across the UK.”

SD-WAN has helped Nuffield Health to reduce WAN traffic and increase bandwidth at sites across the UK in a matter of months. Nuffield Health can now embrace its cloud-first IT strategy, ensuring that its users have access to business-critical SaaS and IaaS applications, without impacting the performance of the network.

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