May 15 2017

5 Ways Health IT Executives Can Transform the Data Center

Scalability needs push IT leaders out of physical spaces and into the cloud.

Healthcare executives increasingly realize how critical IT and data center transformation are to overall organizational growth.

As a foundation for customer retention, improved security and regulatory compliance — as well as greater revenue — an agile data center is necessary to support key business objectives.

While most clear-thinking business leaders recognize that as truth, a wealth of opinions persist when it comes to what strategies ultimately provide the best return on investment.

Check out these constants for moving healthcare data centers into the modern age:

1. Create a Scalable Environment

The next-generation data center must be ultraflexible and responsive to meet the demands of increased transaction volume. Move applications to high-speed servers and distribute resources across multiple locations to ensure continuous operation, even through surprise outages. Organizations that operate on traditionally tight margins will benefit greatly from reduced downtime.

Additionally, explore options around converged infrastructure and software-defined data centers.

2. Cut Costs By Consolidating Data Centers

Virtualization and cloud computing allow organizations expanding via acquisition to avoid building separate physical data centers that use up precious time, space and resources. Now, even when entering a new market in a foreign country, a single, consolidated data center can be more than sufficient to serve multiple satellite locations.

According to a recent KPMG survey of 112 healthcare CIOs, a quarter of respondents say they plan to implement or invest in a cloud infrastructure, including data centers. I expect that number to rise in future surveys.

3. Support Product Innovation

Prioritize efficiency to fuel creativity. Provide software tools that allow users to capture and share new concepts and ideas within the organization. Virtualization can streamline development and testing, and results can be shared via private clouds to speed progress.

Efficiencies realized through data center innovation can help healthcare organizations develop new products more quickly and at lower cost. That, in turn, promotes new product innovation.

4. Establish Service-Level Requirements

In setting up data center infrastructure, many organizations take the approach of building in much more capability than they actually need, assuming that allowing for business growth is a prudent course of action.

That tactic, however, often leads to a waste of resources. Taking a more in-depth look at actual business needs to produce a more accurate budget makes for a better approach. From there, develop service-level requirements that can scale as needed. Don’t pay more for unnecessary utility and maintenance.

5. Define Metrics for Success

When planning for data center transformation, take a thorough inventory of all IT resources and capacity, as well as staff skills that will be available in the new data center. IT managers and business executives should agree on metrics for success, and should set defined benchmarks rather than moving targets.

For example, consolidating 12 data centers down to four represents an achievable task for the IT department, while business managers might seek scalable support for sales transactions that expand to as much as four times normal volume. Be sure to formally agree beforehand on whatever those metrics might be to ensure achievable and measureable success.

The need for pricey, physical data centers to ensure organizational survival is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Hospital leaders must realize that investments in upgrading and modernizing technology are necessary to provide a solid foundation for ongoing evolution. IT also must be able to grow to better support required computing capabilities, data analytics, content sharing and scalability for business transactions, in addition to future growth through mergers and acquisitions.

Darryl Sebro

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