New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) is the organisation you need when you least expect it. The Crown Entity is responsible for finding blood donors all over the country and the logistics of collecting and distributing blood and plasma to hospitals for lifesaving treatments.

Its services extend beyond this critical “vein to vein” system that links donor to patient, to include bone, skin and organ donations. Technology is crucial to every aspect of NZBS’s work, from registering donors to tracing distribution of blood, bone and tissue around the health system.

So, when NZBS was faced with expiring software licences and a decision whether to replace ageing on-premises server equipment, it had yet another critical decision to make.

Photograph of a patient sitting in a chair having their blood pressure taken by a male nurse holding a clipboard
Technology is crucial to every aspect of NSBS's work, enabling them to save lives across Aotearoa.

Settling on a hybrid approach

“We were in a precarious situation, needing to make a decision quickly,” says Michael Lewis, Infrastructure Manager at NZBS.

“So Datacom came in and worked with us to undertake a server migration and assist us in remediating the situation.”

The work had actually begun several years earlier when Datacom undertook a cloud readiness assessment for NZBS. That paved the way for the organisation’s move to Microsoft 365 and Exchange Online, putting all email, productivity software and file storage in the cloud.

When it came to replacing NZBS’s servers and associated software, Datacom helped NZBS map out what applications and services were appropriate for Azure as well as those more suited to private cloud infrastructure.

“We wanted to evolve and adapt to the changing circumstances and have our workloads in the public cloud,” says Lewis.

“But some of our applications require low latency and architecture that benefits from having infrastructure locally hosted in a private cloud. It very quickly turned into a collaborative approach for a holistic solution that was best for us across all of our teams and systems.”

The cloud migration itself kicked off in October 2022 and had to take account of the 24-7 nature of NZBS’s operations.

“We worked with Datacom to ensure there wasn’t going to be downtime that would interrupt us,” says Nick Knoetze, Senior Project Manager at NZBS, who worked alongside the Datacom team.

“The Datacom staff went above and beyond. There were many Sundays where we had to schedule changes because of the criticality of the service.”

Security to the fore

The project was completed in March and included an ongoing focus on cybersecurity.

NZBS is now better able to take advantage of SaaS (software as a service) products and has its own dedicated hosting running in Datacom’s private cloud hosting key applications.

“If we’d have had to purchase new hardware instead of going to the cloud, the upfront and ongoing costs would have been considerable,” says Lewis.

“We’ve saved money with our hybrid cloud arrangement and given ourselves a lot of flexibility as we continue our modernisation journey.”

With capacity challenges within the in-house IT team, NZBS appreciated the Datacom team’s expertise across multiple domains, its flexibility during the migration and solid technical and financial reporting throughout.

“Datacom helped us do a lot of planning, which in the end was well worth it. We haven’t really had any teething problems with the new system. It honestly felt pretty seamless.”

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Healthcare Public sector
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