PHE's mission is to protect and improve the UK's health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. It has a national leadership role in developing new models of public health together with national and local government, the National Health Service (NHS), the voluntary and community sector, industry, the scientific and academic community and global public health partners, and presenting these directly to the public. PHE was established in 2013 to bring together specialists from more than 100 organisations into a single public health service, presenting a major challenge of structuring its central ICT department to merge the numerous disparate IT systems.
In consolidating, modernizing and preparing its IT environment for future needs, PHE had several technology requirements that it wanted to address:
To help meet these challenges and deliver computing needs that impact the overall welfare of the general public, PHE looked at technology partners with a track record in delivering enterprise-grade open source solutions for mission-critical operations. Ultimately, PHE chose Red Hat Enterprise Linux to underpin its growing set of critical systems, as it could help provide the necessary flexibility and capacity for hybrid Cloud innovation without sacrificing the agencys need for production stability and support.
PHE's strategy initially focused on its HPC clusters, running complex analyses of public health issues like emergency response and vaccination policy modelling, which were costly to maintain and update individually. PHE wanted to extend its use of open source in a reliable and secure way to provide end-users with full self-service capabilities whilst improving cross platform orchestration, better manage its growing ecosystem of virtualized, private and public Cloud resources, and support its existing business-as-usual applications.
Today, PHE's innovation program is focused on standardising applications, simplifying systems provisioning and configuration management, and delivering Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) capabilities. The agency has selected Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, the industry's most comprehensive enterprise Kubernetes platform, alongside tightly-integrated Red Hat OpenShift Container Storage, to improve data and code portability and reusability, data sharing and team collaboration in a hybrid Cloud environment. Following a successful pilot, PHE now plans to develop and deploy new web apps on Red Hat OpenShift and migrate existing legacy applications onto a Cloud-native Red Hat OpenShift platform. The use of OpenShift is enabling PHE to more easily deliver workload scalability, improve lifecycle management, and facilitate compliance with security policies.
With its open source Cloud infrastructure platform, Public Health England is helping to accelerate service delivery, reduce operational costs and offer IT infrastructure resources as a service and manage hybrid and multi-Cloud environments in a distributed cloud infrastructure. From supporting the NHS on reducing antibiotic prescribing and informing the public about sugar in food and drink, to using whole genome sequencing for rapid identification of potentially aggressive pathogens, PHE can provide a more consistent DevOps experience and functionality across underpinning platforms, facilitating the development and maintenance of innovative public health services.
Francesco Giannoccaro, head of HPC and Infrastructure, Public Health England, stated: "The challenge for Public Health England is to keep abreast of the opportunities created by open source Cloud technologies in order to help drive the public health principles of equity, openness and accessibility. PHE's ability to take better advantage of the opportunities created by open source technology is vital in its work in keeping the nation safe and healthy and ensuring that public health principles are maintained and developed. PHE's success in implementing multi- and hybrid Cloud is based on the success of the open source community and the open source model."
Martin Lentle, managing director, United Kingdom and Ireland, Red Hat, stated: "Open source technology provides a clear path for public sector organisations seeking to align with the UK government's Cloud first and digital by default strategies. Public Health England's broad remit means that interoperability, data sharing and collaboration are vital to its success, and the enterprise-grade open source solutions provided by Red Hat are an excellent fit for the agency, where the rapid increase in the types and complexity of population health information requires a modern, flexible, and open infrastructure that can support the next-generation of applications and Cloud services. Red Hat is pleased to be able to support PHE as it advances its organisational mission into the Cloud and beyond.​"