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Data Demands Call for Increased Healthcare Storage Flexibility

Modern data demands call for increased on-premises healthcare storage flexibility to handle more applications and heavier data sets.

Healthcare storage flexibility

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- The constant increase of data pushes healthcare organizations to reassess their data storage needs. While cloud computing is the fastest way to get more scalability for the consistently increasing amount of data, on-premises healthcare storage flexibility is also increasing and becoming easier to deploy and manage.

It’s rare for a healthcare organization to move to a completely cloud-based environment. Some workloads will never go to the cloud and some organizations will choose to use cloud primarily for office and administrative applications, keeping primary medical data in a physical data center.

Uptime is another reason for on-premises data centers. Healthcare organizations cannot afford any downtime because clinicians need access to patient data 24/7.

On-premise storage does not require a wireless internet connection to retrieve clinical data, making losing a connection less risky than cloud, which is stored somewhere else and depends on an external connection. Due to the nature of healthcare data, organizations want to deploy the storage solution they feel is the most secure, which is often the solution they have the most control over.

There is a comfort level for organizations in knowing that their data is in their data center, Forward Health Group CTO Jeff Thomas told HITInfrastructure.com in a previous interview.

“They can walk up and touch it, and sometimes it's that emotional comfort factor that has some healthcare organizations leaning toward keeping data in house,” Thomas noted.

These are several reasons why on-premises storage and application hosting will not be phased out by public or hosted private cloud storage. The control and security on-premises data centers provide caters to the IT preferences of the healthcare industry.

The demand for advanced on-premises servers is high for both healthcare organizations building data centers and health IT vendors deploying healthcare specific solutions. These on-premises solutions need to be flexible and easily scalable to accommodate technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, which take more computing power.

Hardware that is smaller, less expensive to maintain, and easy to scale up is required for organizations using on-premises solutions for data heavy files such as medical images or human genome data.

Rack servers are more scalable than dedicated tower servers because they contain racks where more hardware can be placed. Rack servers also don’t take up as much space or require the same cooling energy costs, which makes them ideal for smaller organizations that want to host their datacenter on premise but don’t have much space or resources.

Many rack servers use all-flash deployments, which brings down operating costs even more because of how they’re built. Flash-based arrays use solid-state drives (SSD), meaning they do not have fans or get as hot as traditional datacenter hardware. This also helps bring down maintenance costs significantly.

Removing the spinning disks and replacing them with all-flash significantly reduces the cost of maintenance. The budget that is traditionally reserved for this can be used to improve other areas of the IT infrastructure.

Hyper-converged storage is another solution organizations can use to improve on-premises storage.

Hyper-converged storage uses software-defined technology to combine storage, networking, and virtualization into one unit that can be managed by one single system. Hyper-convergence gives IT administrators more control over their storage environment by consolidating all of the management features into one system.

Hyper-convergence can be run in a cloud or on-premise environment and lets IT administrators control all virtual deployments from one place. This allows for less user error, faster technology speeds, and more control over virtualized tools.

Healthcare organizations need to adapt their on-premises storage solutions to meet the demands of advancing technologies and the rapidly increasing data. Replacing legacy tower servers with hardware that can handle heavier data sets is key to a future-proof data center.

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