When assessing IT-related risks, BHSF identified room for improvement in the way it managed its IBM Power infrastructure. By moving its business-critical application servers into the Meridian Power Cloud, the company has enhanced the resilience of its architecture, cutting its recovery point objective (RPO) from 48 hours to a matter of minutes. The move to cloud means that BHSF’s lean IT team no longer must worry about infrastructure management for the IBM Power environment and can focus on more strategic priorities instead.
Instead of a major capital investment in a new server every three to five years, the Meridian Power Cloud gives us simple, predictable and stable monthly costs that make budgeting easy.
Head of IT
Founded in 1873 to raise funds for local hospitals, BHSF has grown to become one of the UK’s leading not-for-profit health and wellbeing providers. One of the company’s most successful services is its “health cash plan”, which helps people budget for healthcare costs by making monthly payments into a fund, and then claiming reimbursement whenever a healthcare-related expense arises.
The day-to-day management of the health cash plan involves a complex set of interrelated business processes, from updating policies and policyholder information to sending letters, processing invoices and making bank transfers. For many years, BHSF has managed these processes using a set of business-critical applications that the company develops in-house and runs in an IBM i environment on the IBM Power Systems platform. Over time, BHSF became concerned about operational risks in the way its Power Systems infrastructure was managed. Its production server was in a small server room at its Birmingham headquarters, and its data was protected using overnight tape backups. If the server ever suffered a major outage and BHSF had to rebuild the environment, the IT team estimated that it would take up to 48 hours to get back to business as usual.
To address these concerns, BHSF decided to move its Power environment into the cloud. By hosting the application in a purpose-built data centre with fully redundant network connectivity, the company would be able to reduce the risk and mitigate the impact of downtime.
Meridian helped BHSF deliver the project in two phases. First, the team set up a second Power Systems environment running in the Meridian Power Cloud and configured it as a hot standby for the existing production server at BHSF headquarters, connected via a newly installed VPN. This instantly solved the disaster recovery problem by continuously replicating all data from the production site to the cloud, allowing BHSF to fail over to the standby server in a matter of minutes if necessary.
Next, the team spun up another cloud environment to act as a new production server and switched over the production workloads. This enabled BHSF to eliminate its dependency on its on-site server room and ultimately decommission the old server—saving power, cooling and management costs. The team also took the opportunity to replace the existing tape-based backup process with a more modern virtualised solution, eliminating the need to manage tapes manually.
During the move, the team upgraded to a new version of the IBM i operating system, bringing BHSF’s environment up to date with the latest functionality. Going forward, the Meridian team will take responsibility for patches and updates, as well as upgrading the Power servers themselves to keep the cloud platform current, performant and scalable.
When assessing IT-related risks, BHSF identified room for improvement in the way it managed its IBM Power infrastructure. By moving its business-critical application servers into the Meridian Power Cloud, the company has enhanced the resilience of its architecture, cutting its recovery point objective (RPO) from 48 hours to a matter of minutes.