Based in Bologna, Italy, Lepida ScpA is a shared IT service provider to public-sector organizations across the country’s Emilia-Romagna region. Lepida has a mandate to optimize the delivery of IT services, plan new broadband networks, and develop cloud infrastructure. In 2019, the organization completed a merger with digital healthcare specialist CUP 2000 ScpA, augmenting its offering with innovative solutions for healthcare modernization.
The regional government of Emilia-Romagna is a majority shareholder in Lepida, and in 2014 awarded the company a contract to design, build, and manage four new data centers. By leveraging Lepida’s economies of scale, the goal is to empower public sector organizations in Emilia-Romagna to decommission their own individual data centers and move to Lepida’s platform—reducing costs for the taxpayer, strengthening information security, and accelerating the delivery of innovative e-government and healthcare services.
In total, there are approximately 360 public-sector organizations across Emilia-Romagna, with a wide range of needs and use cases for digital services. The objective for Lepida is to enable and incentivize these organizations to move away from their on-premises hardware to the new, central platform.
To realize this vision, the company first turned its attention to designing the new data centers and architecting an IT infrastructure that could deliver high levels of performance and availability for a diverse range of digital workloads: from local administration to hospitals and healthcare centers.
A key objective of Emilia-Romagna’s Regional Social and Health Plan is to harness technology to gain efficiencies, eliminate barriers to wellbeing, and deliver better services. For example, the regional government is eager to extend its online health services to include virtual visits and telemedicine, improving access to care.
To encourage prospective local government clients to make the switch to the central IT platform, Lepida aimed to add value by offering enterprise-class information security capabilities and competitive costs.
Federico Calò, Director of Data Center and Cloud Division at Lepida, comments: “When we embarked on the region-wide digital transformation initiative, our existing IT infrastructure was relatively small, and lacked the scalability to enable the new strategy.”
Andrea Fiocchi, Vice Director of Data Center and Cloud Division at Lepida, continues: “We knew that our lean team would eventually be responsible for managing IT platforms for hundreds of government organizations. We therefore targeted an IT platform that would be reliable, cost-effective, and above all easy to manage.
“When we set out our technical and operational requirements for our new data centers, we quickly recognized that blade servers would be the optimal fit. The concept was a highly modular solution, which would be fast to expand and easy to maintain.” Federico Calò, Director of Data Center and Cloud Division, Lepida ScpA
Why Lenovo? High Performance in A Dense, Cost-Effective Footprint
After a thorough public tender process, Lepida selected Lenovo to deliver the IT infrastructure to support its new data centers. Based on Lenovo Flex System Enterprise Chassis populated with Lenovo ThinkSystem SN550 compute nodes with high-performance 2nd Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, the solution is networked via a combination of Ethernet and fiber channel switches, enabling the organization to segregate mission-critical traffic and reduce the risk of unplanned downtime for clients.
“One of the biggest advantages of the Lenovo Flex System solution is how compact the blades are—we can pack significant compute performance into a dense data-center footprint,” explains Calò. “We also greatly appreciate the fact that our Lenovo ThinkSystem SN550 compute nodes are powered by 2nd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processor technology—in our opinion, Intel is the clear market leader for data center solutions.”
Another important factor in selecting the Lenovo solution was the inclusion of Lenovo XClarity Administrator—an automated resource management solution. “One of our main cost-drivers is the power requirements for our data centers,” confirms Fiocchi. “With Lenovo XClarity Administrator, it’s easy to get reports on power consumption and other key performance indicators, which allows accurate and streamlined budgeting and forecasting.”
“A big advantage of Lenovo XClarity Administrator is that we can apply central policies to manage software and firmware updates automatically, which greatly reduces manual maintenance effort for our team.” —Andrea Fiocchi, Vice Director of Data Center and Cloud Division, Lepida ScpA
Building A Successful Partnership
Lepida has deployed over 30 Lenovo Flex System Chassis across three data centers, typically based on two-socket, 20-core processor configurations. With Lenovo ThinkSystem NE10032 RackSwitches, the company enables up to 100 GbE connectivity to its internal network.
“Over the last six years, we have been gradually planning, configuring and launching our new data centers, and three of the four planned sites have gone live so far,” comments Calò. “During that time, we’ve run two separate public tender exercises for IT infrastructure. Lenovo won both the initial tender and a subsequent contract to scale out the environment a few years later. During both tenders, we were very satisfied with Lenovo’s proposals, which allow us to scale out our systems horizontally and vertically as we add new clients—all while keeping costs under tight control.”
Fiocchi adds: “One of the things that impressed us most about Lenovo during the tender exercises was their willingness to listen carefully to our requirements and tailor their proposals to meet our needs precisely. Over the last five years, we have deployed more than 600 Lenovo blade servers, and we are extremely pleased with the performance, reliability, and availability of the solutions.”
“Our Lenovo solutions—powered by 2nd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors—are resilient, performant, and easy to scale. Together with automated management from Lenovo XClarity Administrator, we have a strong platform for long-term growth.” Federico Calò Director of Data Center and Cloud Division, Lepida ScpA
By selecting Lenovo and Intel® technology as its data center infrastructure, Lepida has succeeded in building a versatile and highly efficient platform that will support the needs of public-sector stakeholders throughout the Emilia-Romagna region—from small organizations to large healthcare providers.
Calò comments: “Today, 37 public-sector organizations have migrated their IT workloads from local platforms to one of our central data centers. In total, around 350 of the 360 public sector organizations in the region are running at least one workload on our platform, which represents excellent value for money for the taxpayer in Emilia-Romagna.”
Fiocchi adds: “Although our blade server environment has grown dramatically in recent years, we’ve leveraged Lenovo XClarity Administrator to ensure that we can manage more than 600 servers without adding to our headcount. The ability to monitor our systems and diagnose issues remotely is making a big contribution to that efficiency. In fact, we estimate that the solution is helping us reduce our IT management costs by up to 20 percent.”1
- 20 percent reduction in IT management costs1
- Enables automated monitoring and maintenance
- Scales from one server to 600 while keeping IT headcount flat1
- Supports more efficient and cost-effective citizen services
By outsourcing IT operations to Lepida, public-sector organizations benefit from increased availability and security, reduced complexity, and lower total cost of ownership. For hospitals and healthcare centers, this translates into more efficient and cost-effective services, and better patient outcomes. Crucially, it also frees up resources for innovation, and the regional government is continually expanding its online health service portfolio. Today, citizens can access medical records, book appointments, and pay for treatments online. During the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare organizations made extensive use of telemedicine services to connect doctors and patients, supported by Lepida and Lenovo.
Fiocchi concludes: “With our Lenovo data center infrastructure, we are empowering public-sector organizations to work on innovative data-driven services, including e-government and digital healthcare initiatives, that will make life easier for citizens across Emilia-Romagna.”
“In the many years we’ve worked with Lenovo, we’ve always been very pleased with the responsiveness of their support. We deliver IT services to many healthcare providers, and during the COVID-19 pandemic Lenovo worked with us closely to ensure we could meet our clients’ new requirements, such as remote working and increased demand.” —Andrea Fiocchi, Vice Director of Data Center and Cloud Division, Lepida ScpA