Hospital trust deploys Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure IT Expert to ensure data centre resiliency and always-on IT operations


Schneider Electric, in collaboration with its Elite Partner, Advanced Power Technology (APT), has deployed its award-winning EcoStruxure IT Expert software at the Birmingham Women and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.

The open, vendor-agnostic and interoperable data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) platform will provide the Trust with a dedicated remote monitoring solution, offering data-driven decision-making, increased resiliency and uptime for its distributed IT and critical backup power systems. EcoStruxure IT Expert is an advanced remote monitoring tool providing wherever-you-go visibility, alarms, preventive management capabilities, and data-driven recommendations to mitigate security and failure risks and drive efficiency. It is part of Schneider Electric’s IoT-enabled EcoStruxure architecture.

“For healthcare professionals, the availability of power infrastructure and mission-critical systems is a non-negotiable,” said Marc Garner, VP, Secure Power Division, Schneider Electric UK&I. “Our EcoStruxure software offers the Birmingham Women and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust greater visibility, increased resilience and will help mitigate downtime across its distributed edge environments.”

Founded in 2017 as a merger between two existing hospitals, the Birmingham Women and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust is a specialist provider of healthcare services for more than 140,000 patients. The Trust’s operations are supported by an extensive IT infrastructure system, whose functions were consolidated and integrated across both of its hospital campuses. They include two on-premise data centres, a growing number of distributed network closets and more than 100 uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) that safeguard critical equipment and patient data.

Remote monitoring increases resiliency 

Continuous uptime is the top priority for the Trust’s IT department to enable always-on patient-management and clinical applications. To ensure continuous operation in the event of a failure, the Trust maintains a detailed disaster recovery (DR) plan, which sees its data centres act as fail-over resources to one another. Further, its UPSs, which are deployed across a number of edge computing locations, need to be monitored in real-time, ensuring that their batteries, and other critical components remain in good working condition.

Traditionally, manual inspections were required to check the health and status of its backup power and IT equipment. However, given the distributed nature of their infrastructure, the Trust had begun to experience longer intervals between inspections, increasing both the risk of battery malfunctions and of downtime to its IT applications. Realising that it needed to improve the resilience of its IT and UPSs, the Trust engaged the support of Advanced Power Technology (APT), a specialist provider of energy efficient power and cooling systems.

Increasing uptime 

APT recommended the installation of Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure IT Expert software to help monitor and manage its UPS, battery systems and edge IT infrastructure. Its cloud-based architecture would allow them to connect its data centres, distributed IT and backup power systems, and monitor them from a central console. Further, it would enable status updates and alarms to be routed to any remote device, providing real-time visibility and preventing downtime.

“The annual inspections traditionally provided assurance that the UPS systems were sufficient to meet the needs of emergency operations,” said John Thompson, managing director of APT.  “Unfortunately, when called upon in the moment of need, the Trust found this approach to be lacking. The installation of EcoStruxure IT Expert means the team now has continuous 24x7x365 assurance of the UPS’s operational status, as well as the runtime available to support its critical loads.”

Data-driven decision making to drive efficiency

Additional capabilities within EcoStruxure IT Expert also allow the Trust to monitor environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity, which can affect the performance of its IT and network infrastructures. In these environments, cooling efficiency is essential and network closets can suffer from dust and poor ventilation. Here EcoStruxure IT Expert enables the IT department, in collaboration with estates management, to provide detailed information to key stakeholders. This will help drive investments that will not only maximise uptime, but enable the Trust to manage its hardware assets in a more sustainable and efficient way.

“Through EcoStruxure IT, we’ve got a great tool from a leading vendor, which gives us complete peace of mind,” said Jas Purewall, ICT Infrastructure Manager, Birmingham Women and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. “We can assess the impact of additional loads and use data from the application to decide whether to scale the UPSs up or down, right-size them, or optimise the system for efficient operations.” 

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