REBUILDING NHS SPINE USING OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE AND THE ENTERPRISE AGILE® DELIVERY APPROACH

Spine 2 forms part of the critical NHS national infrastructure. It supports the provision of healthcare in England, handling more than 400,000 unique user logins and over 250 million messages every month. Designed for zero data loss and 99.97% availability, it is highly resilient, has over 20,000 endpoints, and is used and supported 24 hours a day 365 days a year.

Spine 2 replaced a complex legacy system which had complex licensing and support needs. This led to substantial vendor lock-in and unsustainable recurring costs. The legacy system was unwieldy and difficult to maintain, comprising a huge bespoke codebase, many servers and other items of hardware and relying on a large number of complex underlying software components.

A STRATEGIC DELIVERY DELIVERY PARTNER

BJSS was engaged to completely re-architect, re-engineer and rebuild Spine using Open Source products and introduce new features.

The proven BJSS Enterprise Agile® was selected as the project’s core delivery approach.

 

A LIKE-FOR-LIKE REPLACEMENT

From a user perspective, Spine 2 is a ‘like-for-like’ replacement which also benefits from significant performance and resilience improvements. Spine 2 also introduces new features including streamlined workflow applications, the ability to share child protection data across all NHS touch points and a registration application for midwifery staff to record new births.

ACHIEVING OUTSTANDING BUSINESS BENEFITS

A simplified technology stack
Small-footprint software, proven on an Internet-scale was selected, ensuring future scalability. The system benefits from a resilient, scalable, distributed architecture and NoSQL storage.

A rationalised, maintainable codebase
Spine 2 has less than 200,000 lines of bespoke code and a limited number of underlying software components, facilitating maintenance.

Reduced infrastructure needs
The system has recorded a tenfold improvement in performance despite requiring one-tenth of the infrastructure of its predecessor.

Open Source
12 Open Source products from databases to developer tools form the heart of Spine 2. They deliver significant capital and operational cost savings for the NHS and eliminate vendor lock-in.

End-to-end automation
Spine 2 was built from the outset with automation in mind and includes comprehensive end-to-end test, deployment, service recovery and operational automation.

Continuous Delivery
Change is supported by a Continuous Delivery approach – automated testing combined with continuous integration and deployment enable frequent, reliable enhancement deployments at low risk rather than the two-year change cycle of the legacy approach.

Agile Delivery
The project was delivered using the proven BJSS Enterprise Agile® approach. BJSS worked with NHS Digital to refine a collaborative way of working, supporting toolset and processes ensuring predictable delivery.

Dramatically reduced costs
Resourcing and operational costs have been reduced by over £21m per year thanks to commodity hardware and Open Source software.

Improved user experience
While Spine 2 is more responsive, the system’s look and feel changes mirror the legacy system in order to minimise training costs. Spine 2 also introduces several new applications and features to improve operational delivery and patient care across the NHS.