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Cisco and NetApp's Flexpod enables scalability for NHS trusts' data anlaytics platform

Matthew Finnegan | July 11, 2013
North and East London Commissioning Support Unit (NELCSU) uses Cisco and NetApp system for 3.3 million patients as business grows.

Peacock added that a number of other vendors were considered to provide a converged infrastructure system, but Cisco and NetApp were decided on due to the virtualisation capabilities of Cisco's UCS servers, and an existing relationship with the storage vendor.

"We researched the market in terms of looking at the different vendors and technologies and decided that the Cisco server infrastructure and the Flexpod was appropriate for our needs, and gave us the agility of building and expanding in a very simple and modular manner."

"The UCS product does for hardware what VMs do for servers, so it effectively makes a hardware hypervisor so VM hosts are built on a virtual hardware layer," Peacock said. "Most of the others don't tend to have that technology, they have something similar, but at the time they were the only vendors that were able to do that."

NELCSU decided to replace its Fujitsu server chassis with two Cisco UCS blade chassis, housing four B200 M2 dual six core processors (3.466 GHz) with 50GB memory, and six B250 M2 dual six core processors (3.466 GHz) with 200GB memory. The pre-configured system include Nexus switches and 24 TB NetApp storage, and virtualised using a VMware hypervisor.

Following the integration of the Flexpod by Computacenter in March 2012, Preacock said the modularity of the converged infrastructure system has allowed NELCSU to expand to meet the growing demands on its IT without external assistance.

This has meant that NELCSU has since doubled its used storage, going from 9TB to 20TB, and is in the process of provisioning another 20TB as demands on IT support continue to grow.

"Since we have done this we have also expanded the infrastructure to another chassis and some more NetApp storage," Peacock said. "That process has been a lot easier to do ourselves and implement, and it wasn't as complicated as the old environment to do that."

"We are a lot more confident to add on to this environment than we did normally."

Furthermore the introduction of the Flexpod, NELSCU has begun the implementation of a virtual desktop infrastructure pilot, Peacock said, though most of the current capacity has been diverted to the demand for its analytics service.


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