University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, which serves over a million patients, is attempting to consolidate the IT infrastructure used by its 7,500 staff.

The trust has signed a deal with Dell for an end to end virtualised network environment, and to provide support and maintenance for a five year period.

Following the closure of two hospitals and the opening of a new University Hospital last year, the trust was looking to centralise its networks and pull together disparate systems. The existing infrastructure had entry level storage, and ageing equipment that was understood to be running inefficiently.

Under the agreement, new technology including Dell PowerEdge servers and blades will be implemented, as well as a VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3 solution and Symantec Backup Exec and Enterprise Vault technology to offload the storage element of mailboxes.

The aim is for a cost effective, standardised, backed up, centralised, and always on storage infrastructure, trebling the trust’s disk space and saving one day a month in downtime. Dell’s Gold enterprise support services will be provided, with a project manager from the vendor managing the changes, even though the trust is doing much of its own implementation.

The trust is also modernising its Microsoft Exchange 2003 infrastructure, in order to remove email space constraints. Previously, staff would store a large amount of information in personal folders, which was not accessible to others or became lost in the system after they left. Now there is enough room to archive emails in a central repository, accessible by all.

Mark Austin, head of technology and innovation at the trust, said: “Our challenges have been to keep up with our modernisation agenda and facilitate enough disk storage to effectively and efficiently save patient records. To meet these requirements we needed to implement a new, holistic storage infrastructure.”

He promised that the trust would be able to upgrade its systems “with minimum disruption”.