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Healthcare Cloud IT Infrastructure Grows as Data Demands Rise

Healthcare cloud IT infrastructure is transforming as more organizations increase their budgets to move more tools to the cloud.

healthcare cloud IT infrastructure is on the rise

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Healthcare cloud IT infrastructure is growing as organizations digitize their infrastructure and migrate tools and data to the cloud.

A recent IDC research report found that cloud IT infrastructure grew significantly in the first part of 2017 as all major industries, including healthcare, demand more flexible and scalable solutions for data storage and other IT infrastructure tools.

The growth of connected medical devices, along with increased healthcare analytics incentives, leave healthcare organizations with high demands for scalable storage.

Strictly on-premises deployments are expensive to maintain and take up a lot of space in an organization. On-premises deployments are also harder to scale. If an organization invests in too much on-premises storage, it can be stuck with unused hardware.

Another recent survey conducted by Clutch said that 67 percent of businesses plan to increase their cloud spending this year.

Nearly half (48 percent) of respondents said that they increased their cloud budgets between 11 and 30 percent, with 19 percent increasing from 31 to 50 percent. Twenty-three percent reported that they expect their cloud budgets to remain flat.

Healthcare in particular is experiencing an influx of digitized tools as EHRs and other applications become prominent pieces of everyday workflow. The cloud has gained the trust of most healthcare organizations as they seek to migrate applications, perform research projects, and store data in the cloud.

The cloud has many benefits for applications, such as management tools, and equipment and resources can be quickly provisioned. Cloud also gives organizations the ability to scale up and back as needed.

Organizations performing a data migration need more cloud space during the migration so the influx of data doesn’t disrupt regular workflow. When the extra bandwidth is no longer needed, entities have the option to call scale back and only pay for what they are using.

While cloud has many benefits, there is no healthcare organization that has its entire IT infrastructure deployed in the cloud. On-premises IT infrastructure is still needed in some capacity. IT administrators need to have more control over certain data, which is one of the drawbacks of cloud.

On-premises applications can also be accessed offline, which is important for mission critical apps. Clinicians still need access to applications in the event of a network outage to care for patients in the emergency room or ICU. 

On-premises apps take a lot of time and expertise to manage, which is why healthcare organizations will choose to deploy certain apps in the cloud.

Cloud-based applications are much more flexible than their on-premises counterparts, meaning it’s much less expensive to scale up when more space is needed. Less on-premises infrastructure also speeds up deployment times. IT administrators have a more hands-off approach and can depend on the service provider for updates and maintenance.

ClearSky Data CEO Ellen Rubin told HITInfratructure.com in a previous interview that healthcare organizations need to determine which data sets belong in the cloud and which are better off remaining on-premises.

“Healthcare organizations are living in this hybrid reality for the foreseeable future so they need to decide how they want to handle the portfolio of infrastructure,” Rubin stated. “That’s what entities are trying to figure out right now.”

“Some workloads will never go to the cloud,” she continued. “Some things can go and may keep primary production data in their data center but they’ll use the cloud for archival or backup. Organizations will be comfortable about certain workloads being built in the cloud and living there permanently.”

Hybrid deployments are here to stay for the next several years as healthcare organizations make decisions regarding where their data needs to live. On-premises deployments are decreasing but still significant as cloud adoption rises in the wake of more data intensive projects and digitized IT infrastructure.