Employing a staff of approximately 5500, the Southern District Health Board (SDHB) is responsible for planning, funding and providing all publicly funded health care services for the Southern district of New Zealand. The Invercargill, Dunedin and Queenstown hospitals are run by SDHB, and they contract health services from rural hospitals, pharmacies, aged residential care facilities and much more.
SDHB came on board with Inde in 2018. We've been their specialist partner for Citrix and Workspace services, including modernising their platform by introducing Nvidia GPU functionality. This enabled them to deliver a range of applications, as well as rationalising all the hospitals onto a single platform.
We assisted with implementing the Imprivata OneSign single sign-on tap-and-go solution. This allowed clinical staff to tap an access card on a reader instead of having to type in a username and password and a secure and current edge OS, which has proven to be a big time saver.
To complement this the IGEL edge OS was deployed on existing endpoints. The IGEL OS provided a secure endpoint OS with the latest Citrix and Imprivata agents. Besides enhancing the overall security, this allowed SDHB to re-use existing endpoint hardware and has drastically simplified the endpoint management activities – again, a big time saver.
As part of SDHB's cloud-first strategy, the time had come to begin the journey to the cloud. "We're moving our test and dev environment into the cloud, and then we'll look to move production workloads up," says Technology & Services Manager Andy Crossman. "We need the ability to have our virtual desktops in the cloud alongside the application workloads when that happens."
Because some infrastructure systems will be running locally in-house at datacentres, and other workloads will be in the cloud, SDHB need to get used to a hybrid cloud environment. It's important for their users to be able to log on to the systems swiftly, so the ability to spin up workloads and test them now is essential. "With Citrix Cloud, we can spin up Microsoft multi-user Windows 10 virtual desktops really quickly," Andy explains. "So, it's future-proofing - we're getting ourselves ready for the cloud journey."
The decision to go with Inde was "a no-brainer," says Andy. "We were already working with them, and when it comes to specialist skills and Citrix, they are head and shoulders above anybody else."
As any organisation of a similar size to SDHB knows, migrating to the cloud is a complex and often lengthy process. However, it doesn't have to take a couple of years; it comes down to having the right team in place. Inde’s approach for SDHB was to combine their skills, expertise, and experience with ours. We assigned a lead engineer from our Workspace team working side by side with SDHB's IT staff, as well as working closely with our wider team of Workspace specialists. This is in line with our Inde ethos of working as a team.
What this meant was we could complete the move to Citrix Cloud in a much shorter time frame, and we backed it up. "We were able to reassure SDHB that it wasn't going to take years," says Inde Workspace Architect Ralf Donkers. "We put some skin in the game by offering free consulting if we were to complete the migration on time."
With that in mind, both Inde and SDHB now had outcome-focused mindsets. Once the key stakeholders had signed off, Inde and SDHB teams worked together to complete the migration in only three months.
When asked if he was surprised how quickly it happened, Andy says that he wasn't. "I know how Inde works," he says. "We had skilled specialists dedicated to achieving an outcome, on both sides. Everyone was clear on why it needed to be done, and when you understand the tech involved, for us it was actually quite low risk. We were able to build and test the new Citrix Cloud environment in parallel whilst still running on the older production environment. Once Test and UAT had been signed off, we were able to swing across from the old environment to the new very quickly.
"There were definitely less hiccups than I'm used to with a project of this scale. It just went swimmingly!"
“When it comes to specialist skills and Citrix, Inde are head and shoulders above anybody else.”
Critical to the speed and success of the migration were Inde's specialised engineers. "Blair was focused on making sure that things were done properly, tested and checked in," Andy says. "He actually became part of the team, and I think that makes a big difference. He was able to troubleshoot with our guys as they went along and input directly into our change control processes. That really contributed to the acceleration of the project."
Andy's quick to note that one of the main benefits of the migration is that his team don't have to spend time 'watering and feeding' the Citrix management environment. "That's troubleshooting and upgrading," he explains. "My engineers don't have to take time out to do that in the Citrix environment. All that is taken care of for you when you move to their cloud. Additionally you are always on the latest version so you can capitalise on the latest features as soon as they are released. We've been through an upgrade already and it worked really well, mostly because it cost my team zero time. It's brilliant - it frees people up to concentrate on more important tasks."
Another key benefit is what Andy calls 'lack of impact'. "We've moved to the cloud, and my Service Desk can still administer as they did previously, and they hardly noticed the change. There's really minimal impact for anyone who's administering the systems."
Now that the move to Citrix Cloud has been achieved, the next step is to plan and design the move of SDHB's production workloads to Microsoft Azure. "We're spinning up some Windows 10 virtual desktops already," Andy says. "As we move our first production systems up into the cloud, we'll spin up some more ensuring our staff can access those systems really quickly." Giving our clinical staff time back in their day so they can focus more on saving lives than saving documents, is a key part of what we deliver.
SDHB is currently using Windows Server desktops, which doesn't have the same look and feel as a Windows 10 desktop, but the new virtual desktops will. "That makes it much easier for the end users experience," Andy explains. "Then there's the speed of it. If we were to move our finance system to Azure, we'd be able to spin up a whole lot of Windows virtual desktops using Citrix Cloud, present the application to the user, and they'd click on it and access it without the latency, because the desktops are right next to the environment."
With Citrix Cloud now supporting the concurrent user model, Andy goes on to say that there are some interesting tech benefits outside of the project, such as changing their licensing model from the user/device model to the concurrent licensing model with Citrix. "That was great for us, because we've got shift workers," he says. "One role split across three people who work around the clock. And you'd have to license them all individually, but with concurrent, you only need one. That's given us greater efficiency and cut costs."
With another successful collaboration with Inde under their belt, Andy says that he and his team have no hesitation in working with us on future projects. "Inde's approach and their can-do attitude has been great," he says. "And for the migration, they delivered for us in three months. And it went exactly to plan."
So, what advice does Andy have for IT teams at similar health verticals?
"Get cloud-ready now. You can do this with Inde – quickly and with minimal impact. I know that other health boards are concerned about managing the change impact, but it doesn’t have to be that bad – you just need to dedicate the right people to it. It is complex, it’s not something just anyone can do well, you need specialist skills – and Inde have them."
If you'd like to find out more about how Inde can support you on your cloud journey, don't hesitate to get in touch.