Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust is to deploy a Veeam Software back-up system as part of a wider virtualisation project.

The trust will deploy Veeam Backup and Replication v5, to enable it to back-up, test and recover its virtual infrastructure, which Jon Potts, the trust’s infrastructure manager, said it had been developing since 2007.

“We had a new server room built in 2006, and we thought that would be adequate, but it wasn’t,” he told eHealth Insider.

“We found we were upgrading systems but not taking out servers because of the need to hold onto their data. A lot of servers were not being fully utilised, but we were running out of space and using lots and lots of power.”

Now when Gateshead Health deploys new systems it asks suppliers to virtualise them. It is also migrating older systems onto virtual servers.

Potts said the trust is three quarters of the way through the project, with some big systems – including those used by the A&E and pathology departments – running on the new infrastructure, which is built on HP Blades. He expects to be finished by August.

“We did not want a big bang. We wanted to go slowly and carefully. But it [the new infrastructure] is more reliable and easier to maintain, so it is doing what we hoped it would do.”

Gateshead Health’s previous back-up solution wasn’t designed for virtualisation, which made its new virtual machine back-up and recovery slow and complex.

It worked in collaboration with its IT services partner, SITS Group, to evaluate replacements, and tested a number of options before choosing the Veeam Software product.

“We identified a need to do backup and worked on some products to see if they would do what was required,” Potts said. “We liked this because you can see the back-up starting to run.

“You can also run the virtual machines from the back-up file, without doing a full restoration, which was obviously important to us, since we can really have no down-time at all.”

The system also allows IT staff to created isolated testing environments in the back-up infrastructure, where new services, applications and infrastructure can be tested.

This means the trust can expand its IT infrastructure without investing in additional resources or running the risk of affecting its main infrastructure environment.

Veeam Software is an elite VMware Techology Alliance Partner and develops software to manage the VMware vSphere platform.

In addition to its back-up solution, it provides a number of monitoring options, including VMware management from Microsoft and HP network management products.