Location: Yorkshire, UK
Formed following recent government changes, NHS West and South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Commissioning Support Unit (WSYBCSU) provides support services to the NHS. It delivers professional services – from HR to IT support – for 15 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) across West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw.
We wanted the ability to browse, Dropbox style, within our existing infrastructure securely. After months of research, DatAnywhere was the only one that met that need. We’ve done a live trial with our most demanding users – the senior management team – and they’ve been exceptionally impressed with its capabilities. Our vision is to get all of our customer’s data into the cloud and then wrap services like DatAnywhere around it.
Complex doesn’t even begin to describe the challenge faced by WSYBCSU. When first created, it needed to bring together a variety of disparate and disjointed IT systems into one centralised IT function that could serve its various units – GP surgeries, health visitors, district nurses, etc. Having centralised the infrastructure, and facing the challenge of its users increasing demands to introduce mobility, it needed a way that could allow employees to store, access and collaborate securely.
Martin Powis, Head of Information Technology at WSYBCSU puts this into context; “Originally we were based on traditional IT support services and have brought all of these under one umbrella to aid collaboration. In tandem, and responding to changes in the last 24 months, we’ve also needed to amalgamate. Even since the start of the project the challenge evolved as now we have more people, working across a larger footprint, that want the ability to see their data on the move seamlessly.”
As a public sector organisation, WSYBCSU must also adhere to legislative controls. One example is the Information Governance Toolkit (IG) – a national NHS set of IT rules, stipulating policies, procedures, processes and controls that together dictate the appropriate use and security of NHS data.
WSYBCSU initially considered a ‘corporate Dropbox’ approach and a Google search identified a plethora of competitive solutions. Primarily, these offered two key approaches -– either replicate the data within offsite data repositories, or replicate data alongside the existing data storage onsite. Neither was particularly appealing.
Offering a different stance, DatAnywhere delivers the cloud experience without actually moving the data anywhere, as Martin explains; “We wanted the ability to browse, Dropbox style, within our existing infrastructure securely. After months of research, DatAnywhere was the only one that met that need.”
Having conducted an extensive in-depth overview of DatAnywhere, WSYBCSU moved to a proof of concept. A series of webinars with Varonis walked Martin through the initial installation and used pilot data stored within his fileshares. Impressed with the results, Martin then moved to phase one of the project – deploying DatAnywhere to the Management Team (10 people).
For WSYBCSU, DatAnywhere means it can ensure the integrity of its data at all times. In parallel, it removes the need to replicate information, and the associated duplicate storage costs. Perhaps key for the organisation is that governance of sensitive information is maintained at all times, as WSYBCSU remains in charge of where its data resides.
Martin confirms; “As an extension of the NHS, we need to know where our data is living and who’s looking after it. The fact that the data never actually leaves our current storage facility is imperative to ticking the IG box.”
From a governance standpoint, configuring DatAnywhere is exceptionally straightforward for WSYBCSU as it uses the existing permissions structure. As DatAnywhere adheres to existing controls, if a potential hole is discovered Martin can address this in his existing rule base that automatically replicates across the system – quickly closing down the potential risk. A prolific user of DatAnywhere has been WSYBCSU’s Managing Director, Alison Hughes. With a full meeting schedule, this often requires access to sensitive information – board minutes, financial data, etc.
Martin adds; “Since we’ve introduced DatAnywhere it’s simplified this element for her, reducing the number of devices she has to carry, while strengthening security. Her assistant simply transfers the necessary documents to a repository aligned with her iPad. She then powers up the DatAnywhere client on the device, and can view the information without having to understand data structures or the security behind it.”
A benefit realised since deploying DatAnywhere has been secure data sharing. While this hadn’t formed part of the original remit, WSYBCSU increasingly receives requests from users needing to share data with third parties. An example is GP practices having to send medical records to a solicitor as part of a legal case. Historically, this required physically duplicating the file, and then taking this hard copy to the firm. There are a number of weaknesses in this process, not least ensuring the information doesn’t get lost in transit. Instead, using DatAnywhere, the external party is sent a web link, which means the file can be reviewed securely, automatically creating an electronic trail, without physically leaving the NHS. Having completed the initial phase, the next stage of the project is to roll out DatAnywhere to WSYBCSU’s 700 users.
In addition, the organisation offers its cloud offering to 20+ organisations with the plan to allow these users to subscribe to the DatAnywhere service. Martin concludes; “We’ve done a live trial with our most demanding users – the senior management team – and they’ve been exceptionally impressed with its capabilities. Our vision is to get all of our customer’s data into the cloud and then wrap services like DatAnywhere around it.”
From a governance standpoint, configuring DatAnywhere is exceptionally straightforward for WSYBCSU as it uses the existing permissions structure. In addition WSYBCSU remains in charge of where its data resides.
As DatAnywhere adheres to existing controls, should a hole arise the rule base can be updated with the change automatically replicating across the system – quickly closing down the potential risk.
Using DatAnywhere, an external party is sent a web link allowing the information to be reviewed securely, automatically creating an electronic trail, all without files physically leaving the NHS.