Azure Migration Case Study 1

Case Study: Trustmarque and Microsoft Partnership enables healthcare trust to achieve secure and agile migration of SQL databases to Azure

9 November 2020 Time to read:  minutes


Trustmarque and Microsoft collaboration to design and develop an appropriate Azure environment for a large Healthcare Trust to migrate priority SQL databases approaching end of support. Drawing on Trustmarque’s deep knowledge of the healthcare sector and expertise in Microsoft Azure datacentre deployment, to ensure best practice migration in line with the latest NHS Digital blueprints for cloud-based design, security and implementation.

Background to the project

The customer, one of the largest Healthcare Trusts in England, is undergoing significant infrastructure modernisation as part of its journey to hybrid cloud. As part of that strategy, the Trust has spent a lot of time and effort on due diligence, including a 2019 Movere Assessment to review its entire IT infrastructure. The findings identified various security risks in unsupported operating systems and SQL servers. It also highlighted that many SQL servers were underutilised.

The customer decided to migrate some of these SQL workloads to Microsoft Azure to determine the viability of a wider migration programme that would reduce the on-premise estate. The vision was to transform their SQL workloads from Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) to Platform as a Service (PaaS) to achieve the cost reductions and operational savings of consolidating in Azure public cloud. Our contact, IM&T Enterprise Infrastructure Architect, explains: “The majority of our IT stack is designed around Microsoft technology, including our digital workplace strategy which is looking at Microsoft 365 as a SaaS model. We have a lot of dependencies on systems and licenses based in SQL databases and Azure is therefore the logical choice for our LaaS and PaaS models – looking at all the systems we have and trying to rearchitect them.”

Why Trustmarque was selected as a partner

The Trust has a complex IT environment with different operating models and varying needs across the organisation. It was therefore crucial they work with a partner who could understand the complexities and dependencies to create datacentre infrastructure that is “fit for purpose”.

Our contact reveals three key considerations. They needed a partner who could: guarantee security was at the heart of the project; ensure alignment to the principles and blueprint set out by NHS Digital; and leverage best practice methodologies from Microsoft.

With over 30 years’ experience working with Microsoft to support the health sector through digital transformation, Trustmarque was able to demonstrate our unique capabilities, including: a deep understanding of intricate IT systems; datacentre design and operating models; and unrivalled knowledge of Microsoft Azure excellence across design, build, migration, governance and full defence security.

Our contact, IM&T Enterprise Infrastructure Architect, confirms: “We started doing the early design scope with Trustmarque and having looked through the technical design brief, it was immediately clear that it was a fantastic piece of work. The level of detail left no stone unturned. Trustmarque showed commitment to making sure the virtual datacentre would be set up to the right standards, making sure it is secure and conscious of Azure consumption.”

About the customer

The customer is one of the largest Healthcare Trusts in England, employing more than 15,000 members of highly skilled staff and serving one million residents in the East Midlands. The organisation provides internationally renowned specialist treatment and services including cardio-respiratory diseases, ECMO, cancer and renal disorders. The customer is heavily involved in international research projects and clinical trials.

“The way that Trustmarque worked with three different stakeholders to help the customer has been highly unique.”

IM&T Enterprise Infrastructure Architect

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The approach

The engagement was split into two main phases:

Phase 1 – Discovery and Design

To refine the project scope, Trustmarque’s Cloud Solution Architects and Consultants, in conjunction with a subject matter expert from Microsoft, completed due diligence to identify the exact security, compliance and governance requirements. This included a review of the customer’s current Azure presence and a Database Migration Assessment (DMA) of relevant SQL workloads to determine the posture of the target environment. We also needed to determine the compatibility for SQL workloads with the Azure PaaS services, Azure SQL and Azure SQL managed instances.

Phase 2 – Implementation and Rollout

Trustmarque’s Solution Architects in collaboration with Microsoft, designed and built a virtual landing zone utilising the customer’s existing Azure tenancy and subscriptions. The environment was designed to meet the specific criteria identified through the due diligence, including compliance and security requirements, while also leveraging Azure blueprints for the NHS, and aligned with the Microsoft Hybrid Network best practice guidance for Azure virtual networks. The design ensured all data (including PID data and patient records) is secure in the cloud and that all resources are secure from access via the public internet.

To ensure the IT team was equipped to manage the environment moving forward, Trustmarque and Microsoft provided a knowledge transfer including user training and full documentation on the environment.

Feedback on the project team

The customer reports being “highly impressed” with the seamless collaboration between all parties, which saw Trustmarque working alongside colleagues from Microsoft, the Trust’s IT Teams and their partners.

Commenting on the partnership, our contact, IM&T Enterprise Infrastructure Architect, says: “This is the first time I have worked directly with a vendor and a partner on a project of this size. The way that Trustmarque worked with three different stakeholders to help the customer has been highly unique. I have not experienced that level of collaboration, relationship building and project management before. As with a complex project of this size, there are lessons learned of course, but the positives outweigh any challenges we encountered.”

Cross-organisation project team

  • Trustmarque PRINCE2 certified Project Manager
  • Trustmarque Qualified Solution Architect
  • Trustmarque Experienced Azure Consultant
  • Microsoft Subject Matter Expert
  • Colleagues from the customer’s IT Team and their partners

Outcomes and next steps

The customer is confident they have what’s needed to begin using Azure services to their full potential and that the new Azure landing page will be fundamental in managing Azure consumption effectively moving forward. There are a number of planned additional activities that will follow the migration project. That includes migrating the remaining SQL databases and looking at options for their Data Warehouse, which is a substantial part of the IT estate.

“We know there are resources for Azure that can optimise our data warehouse and we need to tap into those. Azure gives us more options,” confirms our contact.

In addition to the datacentre modernisation, they are also undergoing wider IT modernisation including hybrid cloud and creating the foundations for scalable adoption of cloud across the organisation. As part of that cloud journey, the Trust is currently working with Trustmarque on its digital workplace strategy, including the adoption of Microsoft 365. They will continue to draw on Trustmarque’s expertise to help them optimise their license position and user adoption.

“Cloud is the goal and we are getting there,” concludes our customer contact.

Trusted partner to the healthcare sector

We have been a trusted partner to many in the healthcare sector for more than three decades. We are passionate about helping you to leverage the opportunities of digital transformation so you can deliver efficiencies, improve your security and compliance and provide the best employee experience and patient care possible. Talk to us to discuss your needs.

Get to the Cloud faster with Trustmarque

Accelerate your Microsoft Azure strategy with a partner who understands the complex world of datacentre design, build, migration and optimisation.