“I ultimately want all of my operations and data to run out of the cloud,” said a hospital system CIO to me during what was a fantastic HIMSS show last month. No doubt that there is a shift underway in how health IT professionals think about the cloud and this was a central theme that resonated out of last month’s show. In our recent survey of HIT leaders, almost half note they are in the investigating and planning stages of cloud adoption. When asked why, leaders noted flexibility, cost savings and mobility as the drivers behind cloud adoption and, no surprise, respondents cited security as their primary barrier. In order to develop a cloud strategy that delivers against security and application performance requirements, one must fully integrate a solid network strategy. After all, without a network strategy, you don’t have a cloud strategy.
With any destination, the journey there is a critical part of the plan. If I want to get to beautiful Telluride, CO I can book a private jet, commercial flight or fly stand by. Comparatively if an organization wants to leverage cloud solutions they can connect via waves (private jet), VPLS or EVPL (first class, direct commercial flight) or public internet (stand-by, unassigned seat) or the proverbial cloud hitch hike, whatever that may be. With each form of transport there are benefits and costs, and just as you weigh options when making travel plans, healthcare organizations need to do the same to determine what connectivity type is the right fit. Organizations must determine what end users expectations and requirements are. How will the application be affected by network latency and even small changes in performance? How mission critical is this application? How sensitive is the data? How often do I need to access this information?
Cloud solution planning comes down to organizational and application requirements and cost/benefit analysis. Just as one would book a private jet to a critical business meeting to close a big deal or align on a new corporate strategy, a healthcare company would likely look to employ dedicated, high-speed waves to connect to compute cycles in the cloud to deliver on their core competency of genomic modeling for cancer research. If I was flying with my family to Telluride, I would likely look to book a direct flight to ensure we get there as quickly and efficiently as possible. Just as a hospital might employ an EVPL or VPLS network solution from a core site to their cloud partner to ensure a low latency solution, with guaranteed SLAs to manage care-critical applications. Lastly if I was travelling on my own and wasn’t in a hurry I might fly stand-by and in this case an encrypted Internet connection to the cloud to perform back up functions each night for daily PACS readings, might be the right solution for an imaging clinic. The journey to the cloud is truly an integral part of an effective overall cloud strategy. Ensure you are learning from industry best practices, working with communications partners that can deliver a true end to end solution and with reputable cloud partners that understand the unique needs of healthcare organizations.
Want to learn more? Join AWS and Level 3 April 1st for a Webinar on Building a Healthcare-Ready Cloud to learn more about how healthcare organizations can build secure, high performance cloud solutions.