This solution solves only one problem, which is essentially environmental. It is up to trusts to start realising the importance of IT infrastructure and making investment in local Tier 4 datacentres. Managed environments at least have SLA agreements whereas local on site server rooms are often subjected to local issues like:
- power provision: everyone in IT knows that nearly all local estates/facilities departments are struggling with power. You don't just replace legacy dumb terminals with localised computing at no wattage cost. That's the client end, then most trusts have some sort of NetAPP/EMC backend as well which sucks power and that's not to mention PoE as well.
- Air con: I've yet to see any NHS datacentre that has not suffered problems with air con or is running with an N+1 configuration, the cash is not there. Most places lose one unit then it's a biog panic with small units and fans being brought in.
Space: You leave an empty rack and it gets filled with some projects or other.
There's a lot of negativity about this - if it's not a fully managed service (and there's no indication it is), and the local staff are still managing remote resources then there is no issue. It's no different to sitting at a management office and dialling into servers and equipment there. The cost-benefit analysis would have been interesting though.
There si also the political angle. From a sales and service selling point of view, this company can now offer 'cloud' services. It's a buzzword like VDI but they can incorporate it into their marketing strategy, probably selling more services which will more than likely keep these 'at risk' people in jobs (if they are any good and are receptive to re-training).
The NHS IT function is changing. We're not SME any more, we are enterprise and there are rarely local facilities to host such a challenging environment. If the local trusts do not plan this into their PFI ventures and create dedicated centres then this will be more and more common. The challenge will be convincing trusts they need a local IT Dept. still if they are essentially getting their services from private industry.