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Cloud success story - Western Europe’s Largest Microsoft IT Project puts HSE in good health.

With Windows XP going “end-of-life” the HSE had to upgrade its client operating system of choice within a short space of time. PFH won the Microsoft Products Upgrade Programme (MPUP) contract. It worked with the HSE to come up with an innovative approach for a challenging project – the largest in the state and in Western Europe - for the upgrade of over 25,000 devices.

PFH’s expertise in imaging, support and deployment, accompanied by effective national logistical management, brought forward a truly innovative approach that made this project a success. It has resulted in meeting the diverse needs of this complex organisation.

Overview

The health service continues to experience increased demands for services. The continued implementation of health sector reform is required to meet these challenges to ensure a public health service that is leaner, more efficient and better integrated to deliver maximum value for money and respond to public needs. Enhancing technology is a key challenge and a priority for the HSE.

No other organisation in Ireland has as far flung a geographical reach as the HSE. There are over 2,600 separate HSE locations around the country, ranging from acute hospitals, community care and primary health care. The enormity of the project was vast. PFH designed, deployed and managed the full project, providing the HSE with a Microsoft upgrade that successfully took the organisation’s desktop platform from XP to Windows 7.

Customer Challange

Microsoft Windows XP was going “end-of-life” and was being discontinued as a Microsoft product offering, with implications for the HSE, as it needed greater efficiency and a more adaptable operating system. The HSE needed to update both its hardware and software to ensure greater performance.

The challenge PFH undertook was to migrate applications and data (predominantly, but not exclusively, Windows XP) to a Windows 7 environment, which was the most suitable solution. Keeping an inventory and an analysis of existing applications on the HSE networks also formed part of the project brief.

PFH Technology Group was chosen on the basis of its aptitude to manage large projects nationwide. As Ireland’s first Microsoft Gold Partner - in fact PFH is one of the first in Europe - the company also had the expertise and resources to meet the HSE’s project requirements.

“It was a complex, diverse and challenging project, which really needed to be delivered on time, to specification and with minimal disruption to my operation,” said Jack Somers, Director of Support Services, HSE. “PFH made it work,” he continued. “It was refreshing to find an indigenous Irish company, with the skills and capabilities to accomplish such an ambitious project successfully.”

Over 25,000 machines were involved in the hardware and software project. 10,000 new desktops were installed. The vast technical scale of the project meant every one of the HSE’s 2,600 locations were involved.

“It’s not just the infrastructure scale of the upgrade that was challenging but the personnel and management requirements too,” said Chris Casey, MPUP Project  Manager, PFH Technology Group. “You have to have the right people on board, to advise and to take advice from a variety of stakeholders. After all, it was a nationwide project, which needed detailed national and local project planning.”

Solution

Having won the contract, the PFH and HSE team began fully scoping and designing the project. PFH then ‘got it going’ and it implemented nationwide, adopting a uniform methodology along with an effective asset managed structure across the whole of the HSE. “We used a highly integrated team approach,” said Paul Hourican, Chairman, PFH Technology Group. “It took just nine months to complete the project and it was delivered in an affordable and highly effective manner,” he continued. “It involved detailed project-work from our consultants, who worked tirelessly with eight Regional IT Directors from the eight HSE regions. There was an IT team of over sixty involved, full-time, so that indicates the level of service in place to achieve a successful result.”

“At the height of the implementation we were  upgrading at 1,300 machines per week!” said Chris Casey, Project Manager, PFH. “The desktop solution provided was the Lenovo M73 ThinkCentre, which replaced older Dell and  Fujitsu models.”

“There was great innovation in the solution used. At the outset of the project a mobile unit and teams were created, which were highly flexible and efficient. The ‘staging area,’ delivered was able to be rapidly duplicated for each new HSE area.”

“It was ideal for the HSE to select an indigenous, Irish company for an Irish project,” he continued. “We hired another 50 staff to support the project, many who have continued in PFH and others off-site at HSE centres.”

Benefits

PFH has worked with the HSE since 2000 on other projects so they knew its  capabilities and reach. Given the scale of the project the benefit of relying on an experienced technology partner like PFH meant the process of constant conversations  with engineers and the weekly team meetings and the important review meetings were all part of a proven and successful, pain-free process.

Chris Casey, MPUP Project Manager, PFH said “We were  delighted to be part of this landmark project, working with people at the HSE who valued our approach, who trusted us and who understood how important ‘process’ was to achieve a result. It  was a real partnership.”

Timesaving was a key benefit delivered by the project. Sixty-two engineers were allocated to the project and PFH used its successful recruitment service to resource the project at high speed, training the staff to the highest level and providing them with collateral such as uniforms and security access to ensure engineers and support were ready for fieldwork.

Core Technologies Used

Microsoft’s Product Upgrade Programme (MPUP) involved  backing-up data, imaging, reimaging and deploying PC's on-site at the HSE.

Lenovo M73 Tiny x 10,000 users

Windows 7 software upgrade x 25,000 users

All applications belonging to HSE restored to original functionality