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Management Tools Vital to Continued Health IT Cloud Adoption

Cloud management platforms play a large role in the adoption and migration of cloud services in health IT infrastructure.

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

Enterprise IT environments are transforming rapidly, but  IT departments are struggling to manage increasingly complex cloud environments, according to a recent survey conducted by 451 Research.

CMPs in healthcare

The research firm polled 166 US-based enterprise IT organizations regarding their use of cloud infrastructure including the management and automation processes used to oversee their cloud deployments. A cloud management platform (CMP) provides a set of functions enabling organizations to find, access, and manage public, private and hybrid cloud resources. The greater number of functions available to the user, the better a CMP can help navigate the new cloud deployments.

The report found that more than 75 percent of enterprises are using multiple clouds, including public and private, leading to complex management. Over half of the enterprises using more than one cloud also reported that they are currently using cloud management tools from multiple providers.

Healthcare organizations using cloud technology do so mostly because of the convenience it offers. Cloud computing is projected to become the standard infrastructure the healthcare industry will rely on for its primary IT functions in the coming years due to the general adoption of electronic records and health information management systems.

More than 80 percent of IT professionals surveyed believe that their cloud management platform tools lack essential capabilities. Healthcare organizations unable to properly and conveniently manage their cloud environment will not absorb the full benefit of a cloud-based health IT infrastructure.

The research found that users are unsatisfied with slow response times, are challenged with the management and tracking of digital assets, and that internal IT teams lack insight into how virtual machines (VM) are being used over time.

“IT departments being tasked with transformation to cloud-based infrastructure are struggling with the challenges and complexity of managing multiple environments, and our research shows that a majority of the platform providers they turn to today are falling short in supporting that transformation,” said William Fellows, Research Vice President at 451 Research. “As enterprises continue along the cloud maturity curve, we anticipate a sharp demand for cloud automation, self-service and provisioning capabilities as they seek to increase efficiency, flexibility, spend, and agility.”

The survey found that many organizations are using multiple cloud services for many reasons including public and private deployments, storage, and application development. While these cloud solutions serve different purposes, the goal of a CMP is to manage the different deployments from a single platform to ensure compatibility and cut down on staff and technology needed to manage an organization’s cloud.

Most of those surveyed reported using multiple tools to manage their cloud assets, which will allow organizations to use “best-of-breed” approaches and existing tools where appropriate, and select the cloud management solutions an organization’s IT administrators prefer to use.

CMPs are vital to the adoption of cloud services such as virtualization and automation. Currently, the biggest draw for virtualization is the cost virtual deployments save organizations over time. However, one of the biggest drawbacks of virtual deployments is the upfront costs of migration, which many organizations cannot afford.

According to the survey, CMP has a role in helping users manage the process of change and complexity, which leads to the deployment and selection of cloud services. A CMP can “subsequently take care of cloud service aggregation, acquisition and integration. It helps accelerate cloud adoption by shrink-wrapping and de-risking those services, placing the focus on the business outcomes rather than technology outputs.”

As cloud adoption accelerates in healthcare,the demand for services that help organizations navigate the journey to cloud transformation is growing rapidly. CMPs help by providing a basis for accessing and using cloud services securely, optimizing for price and performance, and supporting the needs of different groups of users.

“Enterprises are getting started with cloud and ‘as-a-service’ deployments wherever possible, instead of starting new datacenter builds or developing infrastructure services that offer no differentiated value beyond what can already be found in the cloud,” the survey concluded. “A CMP will be necessary to automate and orchestrate this process and ensure that business goals are met.”

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