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Choosing Healthcare Private Cloud Over Public Cloud

Considering the pros and cons of different healthcare private cloud and public cloud options is critical to IT infrastructure scalability and flexibility.

healthcare private cloud

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Moving data and applications to the cloud is becoming standard practice in healthcare as organizations seek more flexibility for the data produced by connected medical and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Many organizations are interested in healthcare private cloud over public cloud because of the visibility and control it gives organizations over their data.

After choosing to migrate selected clinical data to the healthcare private cloud, organizations have two deployment options: on-premises private cloud and hosted private cloud. Existing health IT infrastructure and resources need to be considered, like IT staff, expertise and budget, before committing to a particular type of private cloud computing.

Healthcare organizations often choose private over public cloud because they may be uncomfortable with hosting their data in the same place as data from other organizations.

The private cloud offers many of the same benefits as the public cloud, but it gives organizations more control over their data because they do not need to consider other enterprises and organizations. The private cloud is also deployed within the organizations security protocols.

Private cloud can be deployed in one of two ways: organizations can build their own private cloud hosted in their own data center, or they can deploy their private cloud on a private server hosted by a cloud service provider.

READ MORE: Understanding Healthcare Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

On-premises private cloud offers healthcare organizations security options that are very attractive especially when it comes to control over the network. This method of private cloud storage works well for larger organizations that have the IT staff and security expertise to add whatever security measures they find appropriate.

The control over on-premises 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 on-premises private cloud also gives organizations the ability to customize their cloud environment. Providers are not tied to whatever hardware or software a cloud service provider wants them to use.

On-premises private cloud also has predictable costs because the hardware and software are purchased by the organization. There are no adjusted fees depending on how much space is used month over month.

However, the initial cost of on-premises private cloud can be expensive.

READ MORE: Applying Automation Technology to Health IT Infrastructure

Organizations may not have the initial capital to purchase all the necessary hardware and software, and the cost of staff also needs to be considered. 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.

Organizations also must consider how infrastructure technology is advancing and how often they will be able to upgrade their infrastructure to keep up. Providers may not be able to afford upgrades for advancing hardware, which could cause their data center to become outdated.

Healthcare organizations also need to consider the complex management of the public cloud. There are many services provided by public cloud vendors that will need to be handled by in-house staff. Covered provider organizations are also charged with adding additional capabilities to meet scale and resource demands.

Hosted private cloud offers many of the same advantages as on-premises private cloud, along with its own advantages and pitfalls.

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. Organizations using hosted private cloud have access to the hardware but are not responsible for managing it.

READ MORE: Understanding HIPAA-Compliant Cloud Options for Health IT

Hosted private cloud offers increased security over public cloud because no other organization is hosted in the same environment. However, IT staff sacrifices 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.

Simplified management is one of the biggest arguments in favor of hosted private cloud. Organizations don’t need to manage their own hardware, which cuts back on the need for more experienced and more expensive IT staff.

Organizations also don’t need to pay for their hardware and will likely have access to newer hardware as advancements are made in data storage. The cost of hosted private cloud is significantly lower than on-premises private cloud. However, it is also more than public cloud and may not be as scalable depending on the contract.

Both private cloud options are viable for healthcare because they give organizations dedicated hardware to host their cloud environments.

Hosted private cloud offers organizations a more cost effective private cloud, but control of the hardware is sacrificed.

On-premises private cloud gives organizations much more control over their environment, giving them the freedom to implement whatever software and security measures they see fit to protect clinical data.

Healthcare organizations need to know what their resources are and what they are realistically capable of doing before deciding on which private cloud deployment will meet their needs. 


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