Wellcome Trust sought a partner to provide consultancy and support as they began their cloud transformation journey. Understanding the increasingly significant role technology and data will play in the future of the organisation, Wellcome recognised that their cloud strategy would form a critical framework to underpin their broader business transformation.
With three data centres in the UK, housing business critical applications and systems, they were looking for a cloud consultancy with an agnostic approach and expertise broad enough to cover both the historical and desired future state of the Trust infrastructure.
Wellcome wished to move from Bimodal IT (as defined by Gartner) to a ‘cloud first’ hybrid model. Both models include a combination of some cloud infrastructure with the remainder on-premise or co-located, but in future the balance was to tip heavily towards the cloud.
Enabling this transformation, and very much part of it, is the adoption of DevOps. This, in many ways, is the big difference between the past and present states at the Wellcome Trust: fit for purpose solutions require this cultural change; and this cultural change leads to these fit-for-purpose solutions, in a virtuous circle of continuous improvement.
Phase 1 – Shallow Dive
The first phase of consultancy sought to investigate the current state of Wellcome’s infrastructure – across services, applications and data – in addition to contracts and licensing. Interviews were conducted with business leaders and technology staff, to understand processes, business priorities and requirements, as well as an overview of the current infrastructure state.
The output from Phase 1 was an outline of possible future models with pros and cons, along with recommendations for presentation to the Board.
Phase 2 – Deep Dive
Continuing to work closely with Wellcome’s Data & Technology staff and senior leadership team, the second phase included a comprehensive infrastructure audit with outputs integrated for analysis along with the knowledge gained in Phase 1. The 6 Rs: Rehosting (lift-and-shift); Replatforming (minor adaptations for cloud); Repurchasing (moving to a different product); Refactoring/Re-architecting (typically using cloud native features); Retire; and Retain, were applied in planning the desired future state of applications.
Infrastructure planning sought to deliver higher performance, instant failover of storage, deduplication and a reduced physical footprint. It was important to ensure that the cloud transformation would improve security and disaster recovery, as well as facilitate a culture of collaboration across an increasingly dispersed workforce.
A fully cost-modelled plan was developed, comparing the the ‘as-is’ state to migration to AWS and Azure from a total cost of ownership perspective. The recommended model followed the AWS Well-Architected Framework, balancing Operational Excellence, Security, Reliability, Performance Efficiency and Cost Optimisation.
The presentation to the Wellcome Board included fully costed financials, migration plans, implementation plans, risk assessments and rollback plans, set clearly in the business context and in accessible terms that facilitated business decision making.
Phase 3 – Making it Happen
The foundational transformation project was organised into three distinct workstreams aligned to business needs: On-premise Data Centre Rationalisation; Network Refactoring; and Functional Disaster Recovery.
Each stream was planned with priorities to gain business benefits balanced with continuity and security to ensure systems such as those tracking £ms in grant funding, as well as the administration of programmes in Education and public engagement such as the Wellcome Collection, maintained current or improved levels of performance and resilience throughout.
EverCity is continuing to work with Wellcome to roll out the cloud transformation programme and already major savings in costs and improved efficiency have been gained. The footprint rationalisation strand has provided savings in power, data centre cooling, hardware support, software licensing and ongoing maintenance and support requirements due to a simplified infrastructure.
The Disaster Recovery Programme, although still in the process of implementation, saved what would otherwise have been a major incident when a data centre cooling system failed.
Not least among the business benefits is the increased respect and standing throughout the business enjoyed by the Digital and Technology Team. The process itself also developed new paths of communication which will be crucial in the future as data and technology plays an ever increasing role in the lives of all Wellcome’s staff.