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Choosing Between Healthcare Public Cloud, Private Cloud

Organizations have to consider cost and level of control when choosing between healthcare public cloud and private cloud options.

healthcare public cloud

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Organizations are presented with many choices when seeking out cloud computing technology for their health IT infrastructure. Healthcare public cloud and private cloud are two options entities need to consider. Organizations can deploy a combination of public and private cloud for their data storage, but it’s important for them to understand the fundamentals of each, along with the benefits and drawbacks.

In order to achieve technology goals, organizations need to invest in infrastructure that will be able to support short term and long term technological initiatives.

The major differences between public and private cloud are where the data lives and how much on-site maintenance it requires.

Public cloud is the most scalable data storage solution. Storage space can be added or dropped as the size of an organization changes. This makes public cloud popular for temporary projects as well as data migration.

Public cloud is often paid for by a monthly subscription fee that entities can easily modify depending on how much space is needed. The fee-for-service model caters to organizations that cannot afford their own on-premises storage space or private cloud platform. Organizations that are expanding their IT infrastructure, testing or migrating applications can benefit greatly from the public cloud’s flexibility.

Organizations also have the option to use the public cloud for testing purposes only before moving a healthcare app into the on-premises storage solution.

The public cloud also has its drawbacks despite its flexibility and general affordability.

Predicting exactly what the public cloud is going to cost in a quarterly or yearly basis can be difficult, especially for organizations running multiple projects in the public cloud over various periods of time. These projects can be difficult to monitor, and public cloud spending can get out of hand.

Another drawback of the public cloud is the network. Organizations that depend on their wireless network to access can be devastated

Private cloud gives organizations more control over where their data resides and its accessibility to users. The private cloud gives health IT staff direct control over the contents stored in the cloud. Healthcare organizations may benefit from private cloud because they can keep a close eye on PHI.

Healthcare organizations also tend to want to have more control over their storage environment which is why private cloud is popular option.

The control over private cloud allows organizations to deploy their own applications and adhere to any compliance issues. Organizations using private cloud deployed in their own data center have more control over HIPAA compliance and don’t have to rely on a vendor to ensure the cloud environment is HIPAA compliant.

The private cloud also gives organizations the ability to customize their cloud environment. Entities are not tied to whatever hardware of software a cloud service provider wants them to use.

The major drawback of private cloud is the cost. On-premises private cloud solutions can get very  expensive because the hardware and the software all needs to be purchased by the organization.

Organizations many not have the initial capital to purchase all the necessary hardware and software. Entities also need to consider the cost of staff. The IT staff needed to manage and monitor a private cloud deployment will cost more because they need to have more experience and expertise to maintain the private cloud.

Hosted private cloud is also an option healthcare organizations should consider. Hosted private clouds are managed and maintained by the cloud service provider, but the hardware is dedicated to a single organization, meaning there is no other data on that server besides the organization paying for it. Entities using hosted private cloud have access to the hardware, but are not responsible for managing it.

Hosted private cloud offers increased security because no other organization is hosted in the same environment. However entities sacrifice complete control over their security features. IT has access to the hardware, but does not have control over it. This means the vendor has the last say in what security protocols are implemented.

Entities need to determine how much money they can spend on their cloud environment and how much control the need over their cloud data when making the decision on public or private cloud options.

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