To put it mildly, healthcare organizations considering a move to the cloud are faced with a whole lot of decisions. Many of those decisions fall under the question, “How many of our IT systems do we actually want to put in the cloud?”
Writing recently at HITInfrastructure, editor Elizabeth O’Dowd laid out some of the options available to IT managers with a look at the “as-a-Service” services cloud providers are offering.
Focusing primarily on Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), O’Dowd noted that “the biggest difference between IaaS and the two other most common forms of cloud computing, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), is how much control the organization has over the cloud environment compared to how much the vendor controls.”
With SaaS deployments, she explained, an organization’s applications, data runtime, middleware, OS, virtualization, servers, storage, and network are all delivered as a service, while PaaS deployments only require the organization to develop new applications and provide data. “(T)he rest of the infrastructure is delivered as a service, giving organizations more control over their environment than SaaS. With IaaS, organizations have the most options. They are able to implement applications, data, runtime, middleware, and OS. The virtualization, servers, storage, and network are all provided as a service for IaaS.”
Perhaps the key to the advantages of the cloud is understanding how, well, liberating it can be. “Unrestricted by the burdens of owning and managing their own hardware,” O’Dowd says, “organizations can consider adopting more robust tools than what their legacy infrastructure can support, such as artificial intelligence and virtualization. Scalability is critical as more data-intensive tools are added, and IaaS allows IT infrastructure to act as a moldable support system for these initiatives rather than a rigid set of restricted hardware.”
All that said, while IaaS can offer many advantages, O’Dowd points out that healthcare organizations need to be mindful of their budgets, the ability of their staff and their long- and short-term infrastructure goals before implementing IaaS.