The cloud is a tried-and-true way to make IT more efficient and save money. Companies of all sizes and in all industries rely on the cloud for storing data and running applications. Well, almost all industries.
Healthcare has unique challenges when it comes to utilizing the cloud, which have proven inhibiting for many. This makes sense; healthcare organizations deal with the most sensitive data, and even the smallest outage can be critical. Taking the cautious route isn’t just understandable – it’s smart.
That doesn’t mean healthcare organizations need to miss out on all the great things the cloud can offer. With hybrid cloud strategies, it’s possible to make use of cloud data storage where it makes sense, while keeping on premises the data and apps you don’t quite feel comfortable letting go of yet.
Here are four common questions healthcare organizations often ask as they’re considering the cloud, along with four hybrid cloud strategies that can solve the problem.
How do we decide what goes to the cloud?
With the innate sensitivity of healthcare data and industry-specific needs, like HIPAA compliant PHI environments, many areas of healthcare IT require a level of detail and monitoring that organizations don’t feel comfortable relinquishing.
On the app front, on-premises also allows the control that IT departments appreciate. On-prem apps can be updated and maintained on the organization’s schedule, rather than the vendor’s, and can be accessed offline, which can be important in critical care situations where access absolutely can’t be interrupted.
The strategy: The cloud can now provide extremely secure data storage options and virtually uninterrupted service. This is where a hybrid strategy can really pay off. Individual organizations just need to determine what they’re comfortable with as a first step. Only you can choose which of your datasets or applications you feel ready to migrate to the cloud, and which ones you’re more comfortable keeping on prem. Assess what you have, what you think can migrate, and what you want to keep in-house for now.
Where do we start?
Organizations that have weighed the pros and cons and want to make use of the cloud all face a similar question: What should we move first?
The strategy: One way many healthcare organizations become comfortable using the cloud is by starting small. With the flexibility the cloud offers to scale up or down, there’s almost no wrong answer to the question, “What is too small?” Don’t be afraid to start with more comfortable applications, datasets and workloads. Once you’re confident about the security and performance you’re getting, you can start thinking about those larger applications and more sensitive data.
Where can we get the most bang for our buck?
We all know the cloud can help ease the burden on IT, and if you’re like most healthcare organizations, that burden is high. The bottom line, however, is your bottom line -- making use of the cloud can be a serious money saver. How do you choose the data and apps that will provide the best value with the fewest headaches?
The strategy: Choose applications that can be easily migrated. For example, many healthcare organizations choose VMware environments as some of their first cloud moves. VMware can take up significant amounts of resources and is already virtualized, anyway. Does it really have to be on your own physical systems?
VMware is just an example. Any app that is inherently virtualized or produces a lot of data is a perfect candidate for migration.
Do we have to do it alone?
If some of the aspects of the hybrid cloud, and getting there, sound complex, it’s because they are. Many organizations just don’t have the bandwidth or expertise to implement a hybrid cloud strategy on their own.
Solution: Providers that offer fully managed hybrid cloud services can make sure you get all the benefits of the cloud, while still managing your on-premises apps and data.
For example, Partners HealthCare wanted to reduce its on-premises storage needs while keeping its high security and performance standards, all while getting the data protection, disaster recovery capabilities, and compelling flexibility and cost savings of the cloud. They turned to ClearSky to help deliver on this vision.
By delivering a hybrid service, ClearSky is helping Partners make the best use of the scaling, performance and economics of the cloud, something the company is not set up to do on its own.
The advantages of a hybrid cloud strategy are clear. You gain all the cloud has to offer, while still keeping on-premises the data and apps where they are today. It’s also a great transformational step for those organizations that want to use the cloud, but don’t want to move all at once. Cloud then becomes a reality and grows at the pace the business demands.
Want to learn more about how hybrid cloud strategies can work for your organization? Check out ClearSky Data's "Get out of the box" webinar series