New vendor moves point to growing comfort with complex multi-cloud environments

ClearData, IBM, PureStorage and others are positioning themselves for an environment where providers rely on a mix of public and private secure clouds for their data.
By Benjamin Harris
10:05 AM
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Recent announcements from three major healthcare cloud vendors offer an interesting perspective on where the technology is trending.

ClearDATA, which focuses on security in the healthcare cloud, scooped up $26 million this week in a new round of financing to help it innovate its products and fuel growth. The funding comes from a diverse group of strategic investors, including Humana and Health Care Service Corporation, and points to a confidence in and reliance on secure health data – even as the cloud environment grows in complexity – that would have been hard to imagine in healthcare even a few years ago.

That same day, Pure Storage, the flash storage vendor, launched its new Cloud Data Services, a suite of new tools to run on Amazon Web Services, that enable healthcare customers and others to leverage a single architecture to unifies application deployments, on-premises and on the cloud, for their analytics, AI and machine learning needs.

Meanwhile, a new report in ZDNet points to further evolution in the market as the types of cloud hosting available to healthcare continues to shift and expand. Specifically, it examines IBM, which looks to be positioning itself to help the many organizations who depend on multiple clouds – some 90 percent of them, according to one report. Adding to the complexity, thost clouds often run in a complex mix of environments: public, private, firewalled, etc.

WHY IT MATTERS
As cloud options have multiplied so too have the uses healthcare systems have had to adapt the technology for. So-called hybrid clouds incorporate a mix of public and private clouds, both on- and off-site.

Multi-cloud use is getting to be the norm and now large players are getting involved. Consider IBM, with a long history of helping manage complex IT systems, is positioning itself not just as a cloud provider but as a way to "clean up the mess" of the modern hybrid cloud world, according to ZDNet.

ClearDATA has recently been broadening its business model to focus multi-cloud solutions, it notes in its new funding release, working to better integrate healthcare organizations with the mix of cloud options while at the same time ensuring security and compliance.

Pure Storage, for its part, touts a single storage architecture that unifies application deployments, enabling health systems to run multiple clouds while avoiding some of the infrastructure problems that arise between industrial enterprise systems and more user-friendly clouds.

THE LARGER TREND
Successful healthcare organizations scale and deliver improved outcomes by leveraging advances in data sharing and interoperability, as ClearDATA claims. But it's reality that health systems rely on multiple different clouds, and that variety necessarily muddies the waters for a streamlined experience across all of them.

While cloud-based solutions are more user-friendly, more secure and more in-demand by consumers, they don’t always provide the enterprise-level assurances and security that providers need. Pure Storage notes that “organizations are too often forced to choose between on-premises or cloud,” while in reality a better option is a hybrid approach with both onsite and cloud applications where necessary.

Not surprisingly, there is no single solution to hosting apps, accessing data and sharing services. Different clouds exist for different use cases. Most healthcare systems probably depend on a few different cloud solutions, so finding a way to integrate the data to make it more valuable while protecting its security are big musts.

IBM is positioning itself as a solution to that headache, while ClearDATA and Pure Storage are both working in the hybrid cloud space as well to help healthcare providers make their data more valuable, accessible, and safe.

ON THE RECORD
"Today, there exists a cloud divide – the cloud is not purpose-built for enterprise applications, and enterprise infrastructure isn’t as user-friendly as the cloud," said Pure Storage CEO Charles Giancarlo, in a statement. "Customers should be able to make infrastructure choices based on what’s best for their environment, not constrained by what the technology can do or where it lives."

Meanwhile, Humana CIO Brian LeClaire explained that the insurer, in partnering with ClearData to advance its integrated care delivery model, is more and more using the "computing and analytic power and scalability of the public cloud to accelerate our ability to deliver better outcomes and experiences to our members and providers."