How IT automation can team up with flash storage for better health data systems

Along with innovations such as storage upgrades, IT automation can lead to more efficient infrastructure design, a reduction in capital investment and even valuable personnel resource savings.

Jeff Rowe | Jul 03, 2018 12:00 am

Health data is piling up in ever-more varieties and ever-greater varieties, and healthcare organizations are scrambling to find new ways of becoming data-savvy enterprises.

As often as not, the push for constant transformation leads to changes in both infrastructure technology and in the organization of IT personnel. As a result, health IT shops are experiencing regular organizational makeovers in order to ensure continued digital success.

Perhaps needless to say, among the most important of changes IT managers must consider is how best to store new amounts and types of health data.  To that end, an array of emerging technologies, such as flash storage, deliver transformational benefits in terms of performance, efficiency and Total Cost of Ownership.

But as Scott Sinclair, an analyst at Austin, Texas-based Enterprise Strategy Group, recently pointed out, “technologies like flash are only part of the story. Another possibility that's just as beneficial is IT infrastructure automation.”

As Sinclair sees the overall IT challenge for healthcare and other organizations, manual tasks interfere with digital efficiency. “Every hour a highly trained IT resource spends on a manual -- and likely routine -- task,” he says, “is an hour that could have been spent helping to drive a potential revenue-generating digital initiative.”

To avoid such inefficiency, along with implementing new and better storage, Sinclair suggests digitally dependent organizations of all kinds should also be focusing on IT infrastructure automation efforts, which involves a number of specific considerations.

For starters, he says, “the first step in any effort to automate IT is knowing what to automate, along with when and how to do it efficiently. How much performance and capacity does each application need? How much can the infrastructure provide? How will these demands change over time? Providing this information requires the right level of intelligence and predictive analytics to understand the nature of each application's demand.”

Other considerations include determining the amount of control to cede to automation technologies, as well as how best to scale the automation to the specific tasks in question.

“NVMe plays a role here,” he says. “While some view NVMe as just faster flash, the low-latency interconnect is critical to a scalable IT infrastructure effort. Data services add latency, and reducing the latency of the data path lets these data services extend to a broader infrastructure.”

The ultimate goal, Sinclair says, “is to deliver an infrastructure that can respond effectively to automation and reduce the number of manual tasks that must be handled by IT . . . Done right, this results in more efficient infrastructure design and a reduction in capital investment.”


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