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07 Sep 2016

Nel Commissioning Support Unit


The NEL Commissioning Support Unit (NEL CSU) provides expert support and advice to help clinical commissions to deliver improved health services to local populations, and currently provide their services to over 30 Clinical Commissioning Groups.

The Challenge

NEL CSU needed an enterprise managed web filtering solution that would be scalable to their ever growing demands and a platform that would give them full access to an in depth and robust reporting suite.

Big results

By implementing a custom web filtering cluster from Smoothwall, NEL CSU’s requirement of “Everyone Authenticated all the time” has yielded greater visibility of their customers, giving them the ability to proactively manage resources whilst delivering a cost effective web filtering solution.

What’s the background?

NEL CSU provides expert support and advice to help clinical commissioners to deliver improved health services to local populations. They deliver an extensive range of services from contracting and analytics, to finance and communications.

Their services cover over 30 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across London, Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedford, Luton and East Anglia representing more than seven million CSU people in total.

NEL CSU also deliver a range of support services and bespoke solutions to healthcare organisations across England, including Hospital Trusts, GP Practices, Mental Health Trusts, NHS England and Local Authorities.

What was the problem?

James Davis, Head of Infrastructure Solutions at NEL CSU, described that their previous web filtering platform was failing them due to lack of flexibility and the inability to provide a robust reporting engine.

The IT admin team at NEL CSU needed to be able to support customers with safe internet access, but their previous solution was not agile or sophisticated enough to meet their demands of being able to report on users web browsing habits.

James comments, “We looked at 7 or 8 other providers but Smoothwall’s multi domain support, robust report engine and sophisticated anti-malware scanning proved to be essential to our organisation’s requirements.”

Our previous web filtering platform was failing due to the lack of flexibility and inability to provide a robust reporting engine.

James Davis Head of Infrastructure Solution

How Smoothwall helped

Smoothwall worked with NEL CSU to design and deliver a unique web filter cluster that was flexible to their requirements. The cluster needed to serve a varied environment with multiple Active Directory domains, and multiple authentication options were needed for customer systems depending on their location and how they connect to the main network.

Bespoke solutions were created for their diverse challenges and the flexibility of the authentication options and proxy setup on the Smoothwall system allowed Smoothwall to fit into this environment with little work needed from NEL CSU system administrators.

The bespoke solutions also enabled NEL CSU to deliver web filtering as a service to it’s customer base, providing them with greater control over web browsing within their organisations. It has also helped to reduce IT staff workload due to the simple reporting functionality that Smoothwall provides and centralised settings that can be managed for all units.

James reflects on the transition to Smoothwall, “With implementing any new complex solution there are always ups and downs, but the commitment and tenacity from Smoothwall has been excellent. Our account manager and supporting colleagues were always available, and ensured our solution was implemented, addressed our needs, and tracked all work streams were running smoothly and to deadlines.”

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