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CIS Migration to Cloud Services

CIS is migrating to cloud services (AWS) and there will be some impact to service.

CIS Migration to Cloud Services

CIS is migrating to cloud services (AWS). This work will take place between Friday 7 May 18:30 and Monday 10 May 20:00.

This is the most significant platforming change for CIS since the service was brought “in-house” by the NHS six years ago, and there will be some impact to service.

Whilst authentication and the Spine Portal will be unaffected, the CIS application will be inaccessible during the aforementioned period. 

Reason for Upgrade

CIS comprises of authentication and application services.

The authentication service is used across the whole of NHS Spine and provides secure access for over 28,000 IT healthcare systems across 21,000 organisations.

The CIS application is the identity and access management service for the NHS, comprising user management, role-based access assignment, and smartcard administration.

Since the NHS took on CIS authentication and application services early in 2015, it has principally used a hardware platform located across multiple data centres. As with any hardware, this has provided a number of challenges, including:

  • degrading performance and stability
  • upgrades and patching requiring service restarts
  • lack of flexibility of storage and processing power
  • physical maintenance costs

Cloud computing seeks to solve these problems and provides many other advantages compared to hardware hosting.


  • successful migration of CIS authentication and application services to AWS
  • zero downtime for authentication services during upgrade
  • zero auditing and reporting data loss
  • minimum downtime for CIS application during upgrade


Authentication – no downtime

Spine Portal – no downtime

Application – the CIS application will be inaccessible during an extended change window, between Friday 7 May 18:30 and Monday 10 May 20:00. The upgrade itself may happen quicker, however NHS Digital will monitor during the first weekday (Monday), building confidence in the stability of the new platform. The CIS application is not planned to open earlier as it enables a great deal of user-based traffic, which is tremendously difficult to roll back should it be necessary. If NHS Digital build sufficient confidence during Monday it may bring the application online earlier, however it is still likely to be late in the working day when this happens.


We do not anticipate any significant downtime of authentication or the Spine Portal during the migration. It is possible, but unlikely that they may hit the service during the very early hours of Saturday 8 May just as it is switching from one platform to another. In this case, any loss of service is expected to be temporary, and we would ask you to retry 10 minutes later.

As described above, the CIS application itself (and by extension ‘Smartcard Self-Service Unlock’) will be unavailable between approximately Friday 7 May 18:30 and Monday 10 May 20:00. We would ask that you do not raise any incidents concerning the unavailability of the service during this time, as this is expected and receiving incident reports may distract the team in the critical transition process.

Subsequent to the CIS application being brought online from the evening of Monday 10 May, if you have issues with either authentication or the application itself, please follow the normal process of incident reporting, including local IT helpdesks and the National Service Desk.


Telephone: 03003 035 035

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Last edited: 4 May 2021 4:08 pm