UK National Health Service deploys open source hybrid clouds with Red Hat

UK National Health Service

The world’s biggest single health body needs to improve its efficiency to deliver better healthcare as demand for its services goes through the roof, and the cloud is playing its part.

The National Health Service in the UK is set to benefit from open source hybrid cloud technologies being deployed by Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) on behalf of its executive bodies.

Public Health England (PHE), an executive agency of the UK Department of Health and Social Care, is using Red Hat’s technologies to support modern computing architectures and solutions, including high-performance computing (HPC) and multi-cloud operations.

PHE’s mission is to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing and reduce health inequalities. It has a national leadership role in developing new models of public health together with national and local government, the National Health Service (NHS), the voluntary and community sector, industry, the scientific and academic community and global public health partners.

The organisation wanted an open, scalable, enterprise-grade Linux platform to serve as the foundation for its computing footprint today and in the future. It also wanted a scalable private cloud infrastructure to power its HPC clusters used to analyse the ever growing amount of data required to deliver modern public health services.

Francesco Giannoccaro, head of HPC and infrastructure at Public Health England, said: “The challenge is to keep abreast of the opportunities created by open source cloud technologies in order to help drive the public health principles of equity, openness and accessibility. PHE’s success in implementing multi- and hybrid clouds is based on the success of the open source community and the open source model.”

PHE required a virtualisation platform that could host existing applications without relying on expensive proprietary technologies, and hybrid and multi-cloud management and automation capabilities to host cloud-native workloads and applications that could span deployments both on-premise and across multiple public cloud environments.

PHE chose Red Hat Enterprise Linux to underpin its growing set of critical systems, as it could help provide the necessary flexibility and capacity for hybrid cloud innovation without sacrificing the agency’s need for production stability and support.

PHE also built out a shared infrastructure based on Red Hat OpenStack Platform, a massively scalable and agile cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (Iaas) solution, and chose Red Hat Ceph Storage for its high scalability, tight integration and comprehensive support for OpenStack services. PHE can now perform “bursting” of additional compute capacity when needed, which helps to increase the scalability and efficiency of HPC workloads.

To improve lifecycle management of legacy systems and reduce proprietary vendor lock-in around virtualisation infrastructure, PHE selected Red Hat Virtualization, extending its use of open source technology with enterprise-grade support to back its production systems.

PHE also selected Red Hat CloudForms, a highly-scalable infrastructure management tool, and Red Hat Ansible Tower, an enterprise framework for delivering automation across IT operations – including infrastructure, networks, cloud and security operations – as commercially-supported technologies to enable centralised governance and management of different clouds.

As well as these technologies, PHE’s innovation programme is focused on standardising applications, simplifying systems provisioning and configuration management and delivering platform-as-a-service (PaaS) capabilities. The agency has therefore selected Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, an enterprise Kubernetes platform, alongside tightly-integrated Red Hat OpenShift Container Storage, to improve data and code portability and reusability, data sharing and team collaboration in a hybrid cloud environment.

Following a successful pilot, PHE now plans to develop and deploy new web apps on Red Hat OpenShift and migrate existing legacy applications onto a cloud-native Red Hat OpenShift platform. The use of OpenShift is enabling PHE to more easily deliver workload scalability, improve lifecycle management and facilitate compliance with security policies.

With its open source cloud infrastructure platform, Public Health England says it is helping to accelerate service delivery, reduce operational costs and offer IT infrastructure resources as-a-service and manage hybrid and multi-cloud environments in a distributed cloud infrastructure.

“From supporting the NHS on reducing anti-biotic prescribing and informing the public about sugar in food and drink, to using whole genome sequencing for rapid identification of potentially aggressive pathogens, PHE can provide a more consistent DevOps experience and functionality across underpinning platforms, facilitating the development and maintenance of innovative public health services,” said PHE.

Martin Lentle, Red Hat managing director for the UK and Ireland, said: “Public Health England’s broad remit means that interoperability, data sharing and collaboration are vital to its success, and the enterprise-grade open source solutions provided by Red Hat are an excellent fit for the agency.”