Doncaster and Bassetlaw NHS Trust deploys Brocade solution to aid digital shift

By Danny Palmer
04 Mar 2014 View Comments

With the NHS pushing to implement reforms to digital patient records and administrative systems, many healthcare bodies have been required to refresh elements of IT infrastructure in order to prepare for a new way of working.

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Doncaster and Bassetlaw NHS Foundation Trust - which serves more than 420,000 people and employs over 7,000 - is just one of many organisations within the NHS that have had to update network infrastructure in preparation for when digital records become the norm.

The trust has selected Brocade's VDX 6740 Ethernet fabric switches for its server rooms. The top-of-rack (ToR) switches feature 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) ports with 40 GbE uplinks and were selected to ensure hospital staff can quickly access information from any location as the NHS moves towards going paperless.

According to Nigel Hall, ICT infrastructure manager at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, one of the key attractions of Brocade was the flexibility the Californian data centre networks solution firm could offer in comparison with other providers.

"What I found with other vendors was that they were unable to be as flexible as Brocade could be with regard to their switch fabrics," Hall told Computing.

"Brocade's solution allows us to connect 32 devices in their fabric, which other providers couldn't do. From our point of view, that gave us massive flexibility in how we implemented the solution."

Part of the procurement decision, Hall explained, was based on the fact the Brocade solution could be deployed across multiple locations.

"We're looking at deploying the switches across two server rooms eventually and therefore we're in a position whereby we can be very flexible how that is configured and deployed into one single fabric, whereby with another vendor it was a case of you'd have to split those fabrics into two separate switches," he said.

Currently, six VDX 6740 switches are installed with a further six to come at another site in the near future. Hall said that with Brocade, it won't be necessary for the data to pass through the core network, which translates into better data availability.

"We'll actually be able to traffic much more efficiently at 40 GbE. It's a very robust solution. We've got a situation where we're not utilising uplinks, everything's always on, we're utilising all the links that are available therefore connectivity between each of the switches is using all of the uplinks," he said.

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