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Healthcare & the Cloud: How Azure is Driving Innovation in the NHS

In the Health sector, innovation can be slow, and we often witness the same recurring problems within the NHS Trusts we have worked with in the past. So what is the future of tech in Healthcare? The Cloud of course! Specifically, SQL Server as PaaS (Platform as a Service) in the Microsoft Azure Cloud. Here are the top 4 pain points that SQL in Azure helps Heath providers tackle:

Procurement Process

Procurement in NHS Trusts can take an age – and that’s understandable. With the state of funding as it currently is, there’s increasing pressure on cutting back costs, therefore each spend must be fully justified. Of course, this attitude is not limited only to the Health sector, but in the NHS protracted procurement times (caused by meeting after meeting before a new project can be signed off) cause serious delays in innovation that could change lives. With Azure this procurement process has been reduced massively, meaning trusts can move quickly on new projects, show return on investment, and innovate within a strict budget. Being able to innovate quickly and know that your data is in safe hands means that projects can start on time, staff are empowered to deliver value and, above all, costs are kept under control.

Server Costs

The benefits of having servers in data centres rather than on premises are well documented, and this is no different for the Healthcare sector. Due to lack of funding, on premises servers are often terribly outdated and inefficient, and therefore cost even more to run in terms of power and air conditioning. Pair this with the cost of on-premises DBAs that need to be on hand for basic maintenance as well as to fix the many hardware problems outdated servers come with, cost become unjustifiable. This has been the situation we’ve witnessed at many of the organisations that have come to us, and we have found that Azure has provided the best solution. Having your servers managed externally frees you from the maintenance costs that become a drain, while keeping you safe in the knowledge that your hardware is up to date and in the capable hands of specialist DBAs.


Of course, many Trusts prefer to keep their data on premises or on paper for security reasons. Much has been said about how secure the Cloud really is, and many become nervous about having their data stored so far away from them. But now is the perfect time to start rectifying these attitudes, with Microsoft's brand new UK data centers starting to open, your Cloud data has never been closer. And with concerns about the security of sensitive patient data, knowing that Microsoft's data centers are some of the most secure in the world, and that with Azure your is being cared for 24 hours a day no matter what happens, can truly set minds at ease.


Working closely with NHS trusts we increasingly find that their workloads have extreme peaks and troughs which can make provisioning servers a real pain. Too few severs could mean services come grinding to a halt during an unexpected spike, and too many servers going unused are a drain on money and resources that are already stretched to breaking point. With Azure, cloud servers scale automatically to mean that you are covered for the most unexpected spike in usage, while making sure you only use exactly the amount of resources required at any one time. This is infinitely more effective in terms of spending and environmental concerns, and means you can guarantee that your services run smoothly, allowing the best experience for both staff and patients.

Backups & Disaster Recovery

It’s important to remember that no matter how careful you are, through technical or human error, accidents can happen. In the blink of an eye servers can go down or a vital file can be deleted, meaning that without a good backup and restore routine there is a real risk of major data loss. In one case, we even saw a Trust forced to revert to paper to sign in patients on arrival after a catastrophic system failure that saw their SQL Servers down for days. You need a plan that can get you back up and running as usual in hours, not days – and that only comes with regular backups. When Elastabytes take you to Azure, backups are build-in and disaster recovery is easy to set up. In Azure you can restore your data from up to 30 days ago, meaning disasters are never as disastrous as you think.

We have witnessed Azure change healthcare trusts time and again, giving real peace of mind and allowing room to innovate. Want to learn more? Register here for our FREE event on Healthcare in Covent Garden on Wednesday 23rd November.


Lucy Bealing is a Marketing Executive at Elastabytes. She's a recent graduate with a passion for writing, social media, and Data.

You can follow her on Twitter @lucybealing.


Elastabytes are a cloud managed services company specialising in SQL Server. We’re a Microsoft Gold Partner and our team is made of Microsoft MVPs. Whether you’re already in Azure and need a DBA-as-a-Service, or you’re about to go to Azure and need a hand getting there, Elastabytes can help.

Contact us at to set up a chat with one of our architects.

You can follow us on Twitter @elastabytes.

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