Hospital datacenters are being overwhelmed by the ongoing data explosion. Pushed to acquire, analyze, secure and deliver actionable intelligence to business managers, clinicians, or customers, many datacenters are struggling to keep pace.
A new report by the BPI Network, "Accelerate How You Innovate: Data Center Evolution in the Era of the Cloud," examines how organizations are adapting to a new model of business-responsive datacenters and networks. And as they do healthcare IT leaders are starting down seven critical pain points.
1. Moving datacenters into the cloud. The worldwide market for in-house datacenter equipment and solutions skyrocketed to $122 billion in 2014, according to the report. Yet despite this growth, many hospitals are not keeping up with business needs. What they need is the ability to manage data, including the flexibility to add compute power and storage capacity quickly when needed. Many executives said that due to the choices that companies face trusted advisors will play a key role helping them design the hybrid solution that works best for them as they bring their data centers into the cloud era, the report said.
2. Mastering compliance and security. Today, cyberattacks spring from foreign governments seeking economic advantage, highly organized criminal gangs who re-sell personal data on the black market, and even competitors gunning for trade secrets. And the more data collected in one place, the report said, the more valuable a target it becomes for hackers. On the compliance side, security regulations can be their own nightmare. Each situation needs to be addressed in the context of other regional considerations such as the practices at local telecommunication services, political realities, state regulations, or anything that involves moving data from one point to another, the report said.
3. Job requirements for the new IT. The necessity for better performance is creating demand for technology workers with skill sets that are better-suited to a more agile environment. The report said IT managers, asked what skills they’d be hiring for in the coming year, listed application development (41 percent); help desk/IT support (36 percent); business intelligence and analytics (25 percent); and security (24 percent). The skills and processes associated with running a datacenter have changed dramatically. “The new skills that are needed today are on the application level, not the transmission and physical level or the security level,” says Martin Zuckerman, CEO of Teswaine Technologies, a data center engineering consultancy firm.
4. Regional variations inspire and challenge. Planning a global enterprise now includes a world divided by borders, privacy laws, energy shortages, temperature ranges, workforce availability and varying costs for reliable telecommunication service, according to the report. While this complex situation may tempt a concerned IT professional to keep his datacenter in place, healthcare organizations that navigate those challenges can expect to find enhanced performance.
5. Enterprise apps. Massive enterprise applications, such as enterprise resource planning or customer relationship management packages, traditionally have been driven by on-premise installations but the emergence of cloud-based applications is driving the need for what some call “hybrid ERP” or “postmodern ERP.” The future environment would be a more flexible suite of tools that blends on-premises applications with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) custom-built applications in the cloud.
6. Automation's emerging role. The datacenter and software-defined networks will be the next significant step for automation, according to the report. Automation saves money by ensuring a more efficient use of resources. And more importantly it enhances an organization’s ability to scale by reducing complexity, facilitating product development and supporting global expansion.
7. High availability and disaster recovery. A key role for healthcare IT shops is to maintain high availability of service even if the datacenter is destroyed by some natural event. Moving all or parts of a datacenter to the cloud, across multiple locations, can help – presuming, of course, healthcare IT departments can work through this list of challenges.