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3 Ways to Reduce Health IT Infrastructure Hardware Costs

As organizations prepare to invest in advanced health IT infrastructure solutions, cutting back on hardware costs free up IT budgets for other initiatives.

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- As provider organizations continue to adopt more advanced health IT infrastructure hardware and other technologies, the need to cut costs wherever possible is a high priority for IT decision-makers.

Virtualization, cloud reduce healthcare hardware costs

Hardware can be costly and the with advancements in cloud-based and virtualized IT infrastructure solutions, hardware is becoming obsolete in favor of more flexible and scalable solutions. Not only is enterprise-grade hardware expensive, but it also brings other required costs such as maintenance staff and electricity.

While new IT infrastructure implementations may be expensive to deploy, several technologies can help organizations cut hardware costs by implementing virtualization, software-defined technology, or cloud services.

Using cloud technology to trim expenses

Cloud has become a standard technology for most healthcare organizations because of the scalability and flexibility it offers to organizations with growing IT infrastructures. Public and private cloud storage saves organizations on hardware expenses by allowing them to lease storage space rather than invest in on-premise servers.

Cloud vendors are responsible for server maintenance, reducing the cost of on-premise IT staff needed to maintain physical servers. Organizations also save on the power needed to host servers in a cooled environment, which can get expensive.

For organizations not interested in fully migrating their data, cloud computing can be used to supplement traffic during peak hours so organizations can fully utilize their current on-premise servers so organizations do not need to invest in additional servers.

Separating hardware from software with software-defined storage

Software-defined everything (SDx) refers to different virtualization technologies deployed in an IT infrastructure, replacing traditional hardware using abstraction. While a full software-defined data center (SDDC) is still out of reach for most healthcare organizations, software-defined storage (SDS) can be used to manage data storage by separating the hardware from the software that manages it.  

By decoupling the the data storage programming controls and the physical hardware, organizations can share storage workloads across physical servers within a network to make better use of available server space.

Servers do not need to be dedicated to one specific task and SDS gives administrators better visibility and management flexibility over clinical data storage so existing servers can be used more efficiently and organizations don’t need to purchase additional dedicated servers.

Investing in virtual desktop infrastructure

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is primarily used in healthcare to allow clinicians access to their personalized desktops via mobile devices. VDI benefits healthcare professionals by saving time logging into and out of different machines to securely access clinical data.

While the operational benefits of VDI are appealing, the reduction in hardware costs for employees also makes VDI a viable option for organizations looking to save on implementation spending.

In VDI deployments, a user desktop is accessed via a thin client which does not require powerful hardware to run an employee’s personal desktop. Users accessing their desktop using a VDI deployment are only using the thin client endpoint hardware to access their desktop which lives in the data center and not on the thin client itself.

Organizations save money on hardware because the clinicians can use mobile devices to access their desktop which includes bring-your-own-device (BYOD) deployments as well laptops. If clinicians are able to use their own smartphone or tablet to securely access the network, the organization does not need to purchase a mobile thin client for them.  

For employees that do require a desktop, thin client desktops have enough hardware to operate the initial OS and connect to the data center, making them a fraction of the cost of traditional desktops.

Cutting spending on employee hardware can benefit healthcare organizations significantly, especially organizations with a large number of employees.  

The general change of health IT infrastructure from legacy solutions to cloud-based solutions for storage, and other IT initiatives calls for changes in infrastructure architecture for more dynamic solutions that can scale to meet current and future technology needs. Organizations will have a much easier time scaling cloud-based solutions rather than continually investing in hardware.

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