Cloud Computing Case Study- Unilabs

CDW has provided Unilabs with far greater cloud-based control over its infrastructure and applications, while delivering cost savings in key areas.


  • Unilabs is a specialist in laboratory analysis and medical screening.
  • The company delivers millions of medicinal analyses and medical examinations every year.
  • Technology sits at the core of the company, and the OIT team helps fuel innovation within the business.
  • CDW provides Unilabs with a scalable cloud-based platform for infrastructure and applications, delivering absolute resilience while improving operational performance.


Unilabs provides a wide range of diagnostic services, integrating laboratory medicine, medical imaging, histopathology, reproductive medicine, and drug development services. With a footprint across Europe, Unilabs employs more than 5,000 employees, of which 300 are medical doctors. In 2013 Unilabs' team conducted 85.4m laboratory medicine analyses, 1.1m radiology examinations and 350,000 mammography screenings.

Business Driver

Unilabs has always been a technologically adept organisation, and is fully committed to the flexibility and scalability offered by the cloud. With complex testing procedures at the core of its business, Unilabs was seeking the performance and SLAs needed to help the business stay innovative. However there was a big leap to make from the service provided by the company's existing solution.

The incumbent was costly, hindered organisational change and ultimately prevented the Unilabs team from driving innovation. Unilabs also wanted to update its WAN, enhance resilience and improve disaster recovery capabilities. But the need to update these key elements within the IT estate had to be balanced against the maintenance of mission-critical systems – each of which holds patient data that is required 24/7. Any disruption to systems would have to be absolutely minimal, and carefully managed.

Working with CDW

Migrating Unilabs' infrastructure and applications from one platform to another, with minimal risk and minimal downtime, required a significant degree of planning. Due to the importance of the testing, analysis and data for which Unilabs is responsible, CDW committed to a significant discovery exercise - understanding the needs of the business, the way its systems work and the challenges that would come about during migration.

"Almost from day one we've felt like CDW is part of the team - an extension of Unilabs with people who really understand our business and the way we work" comments David Ferris, IT Systems and LIS Manager at Unilabs. "I was concerned as to whether we could really make a cost saving while improving on the cloud-based infrastructure services we were using. Today CDW provides us with technical systems and support that ticked the right boxes, and more. But importantly from day one they have invested time and energy in our organisation and it doesn't feel like we’re just another business opportunity."


"When Unilabs began exploring new options for its infrastructure management, we set ourselves the goal of focussing more attention on developing the business, and less on keeping the lights on. With our previous solution we couldn't do this" comments Ferris. "CDW ServiceWorks Compute is supporting our critical workloads, we have the SLAs we wanted, and their platform runs to zero downtime. What's more, there's a superb support system and it's all run from UK-based data centres.

"CDW provides us with these virtual compute capabilities, managed OS and management of the applications which sit on top. Even down to licensing – they have us covered. However the really defining benefit was CDW's ability to provide us with a managed WAN service and enviable disaster recovery and managed offsite backups. This means that from a single provider we've got a compelling cloud platform, comprehensive managed services and the resilience befitting of highly scientific organisation."

What it means for Unilabs

CDW ServiceWorks Compute, reinforced by a range of managed and professional services, today supports Unilabs' infrastructure all the way up to and including OS level. Above this there's a support agreement for Citrix and certain key applications, which allows Unilabs to dip into a CDW resource pool as and when it's needed. This puts the power back into Unilabs' hands when it comes to technology.

"I feel that we’re in control of our business again" Ferris states. "We can scale up our compute capacity to respond to requests coming in from the business, and scale it back down as required. It means we can operate more proactively. For example CDW has enabled us to create a testing environment in which we can explore new applications and operational models. These could make a substantial difference to patient care or medical research, without putting anyone (or any data) at risk. The spirit of innovation is alive and well at Unilabs today."

"I see all this quite simply - we're getting more for our money. CDW gives us better service, more agility and greater reliability. I feel confident that our business will improve and grow thanks to our partnership with CDW, and I'm hoping that this UK success with serve as a role model across the whole company."

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