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How Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Benefits Remote Healthcare

Fast scalability and reduced power consumption are two ways hyper-converged infrastructure can help organizations reshape the remote healthcare data center.

hyper-converged infrastructure

Source: Thinkstock

By Bill Kleyman

- One of my favorite parts of the job is seeing how new technologies are impacting peoples’ lives. This is very much evident when you’re working with healthcare. Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) is one key way that the environment is changing, especially as it impacts the data center.

Recently, more healthcare organizations have been bringing healthcare services to branch and remote locations. I’ve been involved in more projects and conversations around the design of a remote healthcare facility and how new technologies are changing the architecture.

In the past, this was a more challenging undertaking as infrastructure was still isolated and required the configuration and deployment of individual components. Healthcare organizations would make due with a blade ecosystem, coupled with some type of storage and network platform. Although this worked, there was plenty of complexity and fragmentation. Management was always a challenge and getting to the root cause of an issue could take a while.

As I mentioned earlier, HCI systems are changing the data center, specifically within the healthcare environment.

As the market grows more mature, you’ll see even more organizations adopting HCI as a primary and secondary data center platform. According to the IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Converged Systems Tracker, worldwide converged systems vendor revenues increased 6.2 percent year over year to $3.15 billion during the second quarter of 2017 (2Q17). The market consumed 1.78 exabytes of new storage capacity during the quarter, which was up 5.6 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

READ MORE: Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Improves Health IT ROI

The report indicates that sales grew 48.5 percent, year-over-year during the second quarter of 2017, generating $763.4 million worth of sales. This amounted to 24.2 percent of the total converged systems market value.

"The converged systems market is benefiting from an expansion into new environments and a new set of customers," said Eric Sheppard, research director, Enterprise Storage & Converged Systems. "This expansion is driven by products that are offering new levels of automation, tighter integration between technologies, and, in many cases, software-defined solutions based on scale-out architectures."

Furthermore, another IDC study found that 75 percent of HCI deployments replace existing infrastructure, including networking.

Many of the discussions I’m having actually revolves around the previous point. Many remote data centers have legacy gear which are independent components. These layers of network, server, and compute may “work,” but bring little value to the healthcare organization.

In a world of healthcare growth, constant M&As, and new digital services, HCI acts as an engine to recolonize the existing data center and evolve healthcare capabilities. When working with remote locations, bringing in an HCI model to replace legacy components will have a lot of benefits. Consider the following:

READ MORE: Hyper-Convergence Consolidates IT Systems, Cuts Costs

Enhanced levels of virtualization integration – Application, Desktop, Hypervisor

There has been a big resurgence around VDI and application virtualization. HCI integrates directly with your hypervisor to manage key resources as well as the VMs sitting on top. This is an amazing way to simplify management and enhance healthcare delivery services.

Extremely fast scalability

I’ve been a part of numerous projects where one healthcare organization purchased another, or was acquired. Each time I would see challenges in integrating the infrastructures. However, HCI made this fundamentally easier. You’re able to connect remote sites via the virtualization layer. Simple load-balancing solutions (which can also be VMs) are capable of connecting sites together to create near-immediate delivery of content like apps and data. Whether launching a remote site or acquiring another healthcare company, HCI simplifies scale and integration.

Reduced power consumption and smaller data center footprint

READ MORE: Hyper-Converged VDI Modernizes Health IT Infrastructure

This is a big one. On average, I’ve seen data center space be reduced between 40 percent and 60 percent. Sometimes even more. CI and HCI systems are designed to optimize data management, virtualization, and the compute layer. Furthermore, almost all HCI systems will leverage all-flash. This means less power consumption on top of space savings. Furthermore, new features around data deduplication and compression allow you to store and process even more, while leveraging less space.

Improved capabilities around resiliency and disaster recovery

Not only are you increasing density by aligning storage, compute, virtualization, and the network, you also enable greater capabilities around resiliency. The direct connectivity between the hardware and virtualization layer allows administrators to manage load, site health, and how key applications are being delivered. Most of all, you can make failover completely dynamic with integrated HCI systems.

There are a number of other benefits as well ranging from rapid deployment to easier management. The big point is that these technologies help the remote healthcare data center deliver advanced healthcare services. When you couple HCI with SD-WAN technologies, you really begin optimize your remote (edge) healthcare data centers.

For now, if you have remote locations with legacy gear, look to HCI to make a real impact. These types of solutions are very easy to test out through a PoC and can be applied to your use-case. In the healthcare world, HCI architectures have been the bridge to more advanced digital solutions. 


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