May 31 2018

Moving to a Multicloud Environment: What Healthcare Organizations Must Consider

From costs and data backup to security, providers need to weigh many factors on the road to implementation.

As I’ve previously written for MonITor, healthcare IT leaders now more than ever are willing to expand how they use the cloud, whether for storage scalability, workflow flexibility, cost savings or security. With that in mind, different vendors have different areas of expertise, making consideration of a multicloud strategy an appealing option for some organizations.

I’m not alone in this thought: According to research from IDC, 90 percent of enterprise organizations, including healthcare facilities, plan to utilize multiple clouds as part of their IT infrastructure over the next several years. What’s more, Dan Lahl, vice president of product marketing at SAP, says he expects that throughout 2018, businesses will look increasingly to multicloud strategies to avoid being locked into one vendor’s solutions and services.

“These services accelerate digital transformation across businesses by enabling organizations to build the exact applications needed more quickly, easily and economically,” he writes. “With these types of services … enterprises have the freedom to choose their underlying cloud infrastructure provider, as well as the flexibility to co-locate new cloud applications alongside existing investments while meeting regulatory and compliance requirements.”

What does this mean for the healthcare industry?

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‘Granular Control’ of Costs Buoy Healthcare ROI

In a hypothetical multicloud environment, a healthcare provider might select one company for backup, a second for testing and development/research and a third for disaster recovery.

Brien Posey, a former healthcare CIO, says that in addition to those benefits, a multicloud setup also enables organizations to have more “granular control” of costs, truly helping them to get the best return possible on their investment.

“Cloud service providers set usage rates for individual services, but businesses that utilize multiple clouds can pick and choose which services they use based on which provider offers the best rates for those services,” he says. “One provider might charge 2 cents less per gigabyte of storage than another. A different cloud provider might offer a better rate for running virtual machine instances.”

Such a setup also helps organizations to diversify data backup and avoid the pitfalls associated with putting all of their eggs in one basket, avoiding vendor lock-in.

Flesh Out the Pros and Cons of a Multicloud Strategy

Despite the benefits, there are challenges to a multicloud strategy. Security, for instance, is a more difficult process across a multicloud environment; a CISO responsible for monitoring multiple clouds simultaneously will likely find it an arduous task, making security less proactive.

What’s more, the attack surface of a healthcare organization grows as its cloud volume rises. Increased endpoints tying into multiple clouds can mean more opportunities for hackers to breach a provider’s network.

In addition, for more mature cloud organizations, services like artificial intelligence and analytics are harder to integrate with a multicloud environment.

Healthcare organizations must consider all of the pros and cons of a multicloud strategy before going all in on the technology. Action without analysis could cause confusion among end users, and possibly negate any potential cost savings or ROI.

This article is part of HealthTech’s MonITor blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using #WellnessIT.


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