Modern healthcare’s data challenges are unique. For starters, privacy, data protection and security are heavily regulated under HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and other regulatory schemas. Then there’s the problem of medical images, which are growing not just in number but also in size. And finally, data needs to be readily accessible across the system, especially to physicians and nurses — after all, in the healthcare industry, lives literally hang in the balance.
As a result of all these special needs, many healthcare organizations have been reticent to put critical data and applications into the cloud. They’re right to have been concerned, because public cloud on its own cannot meet the challenges faced by hospitals and other healthcare organizations. To provide the performance, data protection and security that healthcare organizations require, the cloud must be combined with the edge to create a complete storage service like ClearSky’s, because, without the edge, public cloud data centers are so far away, simple physics introduces significant latency that the world’s biggest pipes won’t overcome.
Here’s how hybrid cloud storage-as-a-service can address the unique regulatory, scalability and accessibility challenges healthcare organizations face.
Security and privacy — Bedrock capabilities for compliance
Storage-as-a-service must have airtight security to be even considered as an option for healthcare organizations. The baseline level for compliance with security regulations starts at complete end-to-end encryption of the data, both in-transit and at-rest. Of course, ClearSky Data provides that, but we also makes it nearly impossible for bad actors to access even encrypted data while it is in-transit by using dedicated private lines for each customer.
Concerning data protection, ClearSky has built in both backup and disaster recovery (DR) as an integral part of the service, with recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs) that are measured in minutes, not hours or days. There’s no need to invest in a duplicate DR data center or complex and expensive replication schemes. ClearSky automatically takes care of it all in the background, so the healthcare IT team doesn’t need to waste time babysitting backups or losing sleep wondering whether data will be recoverable.
Finally, ClearSky offers full auditing logging and control. Combined with the other security features mentioned above, ClearSky can demonstrate compliance with every regulatory and standard healthcare needs, including SOC-2, HIPAA, GDPR and additional requirements from partners and organizations who are sponsoring medical research.
Infinite scale with flash performance
Modern healthcare organizations rely heavily on modern imaging technologies which produce a massive amount of data, often in the form of huge, single files for Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS), and the amount of this type of data healthcare IT must manage is growing fast. For example, as imaging moves from two dimensions to three, the associated files can grow by a factor of 10 or more. Scaling an on-premises data center to meet the needs of this kind of exponential data growth requires buying far more capacity that the organization will need for more than a year, or buying additional boxes every 18 months or so. Either way, it’s not a sustainable model.
Read our solution brief: Advance Your Healthcare Enterprise Imaging Strategy
ClearSky provides essentially infinite capacity, and if a healthcare organization needs more, it’s just a few clicks away. There’s no need to buy, ship, install and maintain additional storage gear. In fact, ClearSky’s only footprint in the on-prem data center is a fully-managed, 2U appliance. Here’s how ClearSky makes that possible.
All of the customer’s data, be it hot, warm or cold, resides in multiple backing locations in the public cloud, which means the cloud’s inherent scalability is built into ClearSky. Hot data is cached in the on-prem appliance, while warm and hot data are also cached at a PoP no more than 120 miles from the customer, to ensure that there’s no detectable lag if someone requests data that’s not cached on-prem.
What’s more, scaling down due to changes in a healthcare organization’s structure or to address technical needs is just as easy as scaling up. The primary benefit of ease of scalability in a storage-as-a-service system is that the customer only pays for the amount of storage capacity that it needs at any given time. Over-provisioning capacity to account for future growth becomes just a bad memory.
The way ClearSky Data implements its storage-as-a-service architecture is specifically designed for rapid availability of customer’s data. ClearSky’s patented Smart Tiered Caching™ technology ensures that data is exactly where it needs to be when it needs to be there, close to the customer to ensure flash performance. Even when dealing with very large files, such as radiological images, ClearSky delivers data on-demand with extremely low latency, all without the need for large on-premises storage systems.
But don’t take our word for it. Instead, listen to Brent Richter, enterprise director for ERIS at Partners Healthcare. ERIS is an internal unit that provides provides the organization’s Research and Clinical Innovation communities with technology services and platforms that support their work.
“Our teams cannot detect differences in system performance while accessing data that we manage ourselves versus the data managed by ClearSky, which is a huge benefit,” Richter said. “And we now meet or exceed security compliance for industry, federal and state data security and privacy requirements, which was our primary goal.”
Interested in learning more about how ClearSky Data can help your healthcare organization comply with regulations, eliminate capacity challenges and provide high-speed access to data to everyone in your organization? Sign up for a demo today!