Mission-critical ICT operation at Medi-Clinic a great success

National network integration and ICT infrastructure support specialist Integr8 IT has entrenched its role as trusted ICT advisor and partner to Medi-Clinic, one of the largest providers of private healthcare in South Africa.

Medi-Clinic realising that a Terminal Services environment can translate into a reduction in total cost of ownership, greater control, ease of use and manageability, approached Integr8it to make this a national project and implement the technology at over 40 hospitals across South Africa in a phased approach. 

Testing and standardisation came to fruition with the role out of Terminal services backbone at desktop level, characterised by thin client infrastructure, to twelve hospitals and 500 users, installed 24 servers nationally with no data loss, thus far.

“This was a challenging project due to the scale of work that had to be done and the fact that we had to ensure no data was lost in the process and the group did not experience any downtime,” explains Fahmi Jacobs, Project Manager.

“This has been one of the biggest and most successful projects within the Medi-Clinic Group for this year. The company selected to go the thin client environment route because of the control perspective, future saving in hardware replacement, cost reduction from a support point of view, control over user applications and desktop environment, as well as centralising back-ups,” says Lance Fanaroff, joint MD at Integr8 IT.

One of the main challenges of the project was the fact that all processes and phases had to be completed without incurring any downtime.

This project was vitally important to Medi-Clinic and thus choosing the correct partner to implement this part of the Medi-Clinic IT strategy, was crucial to the success of the project, says Deon Myburgh, Manager – IT Operations Medi-Clinic. 

“With such a large geographically dispersed user base, the implementation of Terminal Services is key to improved and effective user support, as well as a reduction in the cost of ownership,” adds Myburgh.

Says Fanaroff, “Due to the high intensity work and the nature of the hospital environment, one of our primary objectives was to make the necessary changes quickly, successfully whilst avoiding downtime at all costs. The majority of work was done after hours and on weekends to ensure this risk was averted.”

Installing a Terminal and Exchange server as per the Medi-Clinic Standard meant optimising the LAN infrastructure for best performance and making sure that switches were configured properly, customising and loading images for workstations, and implementing terminal services at each site. 

A critical requirement was for the standardisation and lockdown of the desktops in order for users to have all their applications centralised on the local Terminal Servers at each site.

“The decision to implement terminal services and decentralise Microsoft Exchange at each site was made so as to avoid any dependency on WAN connectivity to the head office. A thin client environment allows users to be able to log on to any workstation, and view their own desktop. This means that if their PC packs up, users can continue to work at another location. The Terminal Server rollout has been very successful and has lowered the cost of support on the desktops, simplified remote support and has resulted in a significant return on investment.”

Integr8it proved that they were the right partner with the right skills, completing the first three phases with precision planning and professional efficiency, says Myburgh.

According to Fanaroff, the reports from users and hospital management have been largely positive.

“This is an ongoing project and we look forward to a long and prosperous relationship,” Fanaroff concludes.