NSW Health on track to deliver as-a-service hybrid infrastrucutre

NSW Health has entered the third stage of its transformation project, and said it will continue to work towards shutting down all its datacentres in favour of GovDC.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

NSW Health has just entered into the third phase of its transformation project that will involve migrating its existing services and systems into a hybrid as-as-service IT model.

Speaking at Criterion's Implementing an As-a-Service Model conference in Sydney on Wednesday, NSW Health director of infrastructure Andrew Pedrazzini explained the department is just at the start of migrating existing operations onto an as-a-service infrastructure by utilising the capabilities the department has since established.

The move comes after NSW Health started to overhaul its IT infrastructure back in 2009, when it recognised that all of its entities were operating separately.

NSW Health compromises of The Ministry of Health, 15 local health districts, Ambulance Service, Justice Health, Cancer Institute, Clinical Excellence Commission, Agency for Clinical Innovation, Health Education and Training Institute, Bureau of Health Information, eHealth NSW, Health Infrastructure, and Health Share, as well as external providers such as St Vincent's Hospital and Royal Rehab.

"The challenge that we have is that all of these are all independent entities with their own boards, executives, ICT organisation, structures, funds, and own priorities," Pedrazzini said.

As a result of the disparity, Pedrazzini said some of the core challenges NSW Health currently faces include having more than 25 ageing datacentres, no end-to-end management system or mandate in place, and an inability to deliver videos because 60 percent of its sites have less than 2Mbps capacity.

At the same time, staff that move from working hospital to hospital are unable to use the same login credentials to access the state-wide electronic medical, Pedrazzini said, adding that a significant percentage of campuses still use CAT 4 standard cabling.

"We can sit here and talk about an as-a-service strategy as much as we want but at the moment we can't even turn anything on 'cause the networks would grind to a halt ... we have to fix some of these fundamentals," he said.

Pedrazzini said a key part of the journey so far has involved collaborating with the local health districts.

"The as-a-service approach will provide accountability, enables repeatability, introduce certainty, and minimise surprises," he said.

NSW Health has already so far developed a network core that features 250Gbps capacity, and has reduced bandwidth carriage costs by 80 percent.

Additionally, 80,000 identities have now been migrated onto the state-wide identity directory, with plans to have 120,000 by June 2016; and 60,000 email addresses have been created in the state email system with plans to increase that to 85,000 by the end of the financial year.

Pedrazzini added that NSW Health has commenced migrating all of its entities to GovDC. The process is to be completed by July 2017 and will see three of its corporate datacentres shut down.

GovDC was launched in October 2013 to enable the consolidation of all 130 existing government datacentres, and become the new marketplace where international telcos, cloud providers, infrastructure providers, managed services, and software companies, including IBM, Data#3, Telstra, SAP, Oracle, and Huawei Technologies are registered to participate and offer cloud services to government agencies.

He said the infrastructure refresh will also mean the department will move from a capex to opex funding model.

"Our business case at the moment is currently going at AU$1.3 billion across nine years. What's interesting for us is the bulk or two-thirds come from opex, not capex. The capex capabilities are primary there to facilitate the migration. The opex capability is there to set us up so that we're sustainable in the long term," he said.

One of the more specific clinical initiatives that will be a priority for NSW Health will be the development of medical records for the ICU, which has been dubbed the Eric Program. As part of the program, all ICU machines will be connected back to the backend infrastructure, which Pedrazzini said will be a change from the current environment where there is no oversight over the program.

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