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Sound cloud economics still key to successful health org transition

The decision to move to the cloud provides flexibility to choose from a range of service options and management tools, says one longtime consultant, but it’s important for health IT execs to remember they all come at a cost.

Jeff Rowe | Oct 30, 2017 12:00 am

In rather short order, cloud providers have grown a healthy inventory of different, easily deployable services to attract the interest of enterprises of all kinds, including healthcare.

As David Loshin, president of Knowledge Integrity Inc., a Big Data and Business Intelligence consulting, training and development services company noted recently, “aside from the potential cost benefits of transitioning IT such as data warehousing, business intelligence and analytics environments to the cloud, there are four factors that make cloud an attractive option for CIOs: the ability to renovate and modernize their system as the capabilities are moved to the cloud platform; access to virtualized systems that are deployable on the latest and greatest hardware platforms, thus reducing the potential for hardware obsolescence; the growing menu of services provided by the cloud hosts; and the ability to offload system management and maintenance to the cloud provider.”

At the same time, Loshin points out, the array of choices doesn’t make decisions simple for IT executives, complicating “the ability to balance system availability, data usability, overall performance and ongoing costs.”

Moreover, the term cloud services actually covers a wide array of resources and capabilities, including data storage, a range of computing platforms, big data analytical environments and emerging services “with options for machine learning, unstructured search, text analytics, speech and natural language APIs, data visualization, and other capabilities.”

In short, he says, while the options can be tantalizing, they all come with a cost.  Consequently, the phrase "cloud computing economics" becomes “an important variable in numerous aspects of system design. When considering migrating your data warehouse, business intelligence, reporting and analytics functions to the cloud, it's important to evaluate the data use patterns, determine the types of information models and assess the user community's requirements. Work with the cloud vendor to figure out the best approach to data architecture, services and application design to optimize data availability, data utilization, system performance and expenditures.”