NHS doctors try to extract Ellison’s backbone

skeletonsThe NHS has purged the Oracle backbone from a national patient database system and recommended a course of Open Sauc NoSQL running on an open-source stack instead.

Dubbed Spine2, the new Ellison free backbone has gone live on x86 hardware.  Spine is the NHS’s main secure patient database and messaging platform.  It is a bit of serious technology logging the non-clinical information on 80 million Brits.

It also runs a messaging hub between 20,000 applications that include the Electronic Prescription Service and Summary Care Records.

The first version of Spine had run on Oracle under an out-sourced contract managed by telecoms giant BT, but the Health and Social Care Information Center (HSCIC) – the NHS organisation running the system thought that open source and NoSQL will be easier to live with.

Oracle’s relational database has been replaced with a NoSQL distributed system called Riak, from Basho.

Other open-source elements are Redis, Nginx, Tornado and RabitMQ while Splunk has been used for logging and reporting.

The Spine2 contract was awarded under the Cabinet Office’s G-Cloud framework, which encourages government types to buy from small providers like Basho.

It seems to have been much cheaper too some of that is not having to pay an Oracle license, or a maintenance fee, but some of it was also managed by consolidating the hardware.

Riak is up to two times cheaper than Oracle while the infrastructure will cost five per cent that of the old setup.

What is also odd is that HSCIC has saved money by bringing Spine2 back in house with on-going development. This is bad news for BT, but could be the start of a backlash against open sourcing.