Virtualization News

SDx Growth Triggered by Advancing Healthcare Technology

As infrastructure technology advances, software-defined anything grows to take the place of legacy health IT infrastructure solutions to support new technology.

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Software-defined IT infrastructure services are gaining popularity with advancements in cloud and virtualization technology.

SDx grows in heatlhcare

Markets and Markets examined the software-defined anything (SDx) market in one of their latest reports, predicting the technology will grow at a CAGR of 31.72% between 2016 and 2022.

SDx refers to the growth and demand for technology that can be programmed and used to automate solutions within an IT infrastructure by virtualizing certain solution functions using abstraction and cloud services. SDx includes software-defined networking (SDN), software-defined data centers (SDDC), and software-defined storage (SDS).

Researchers credit the dynamic provisioning of networking resources and their reduced operational costs along with unified cloud resources as several factors driving the growth of the SDx market.

The general change of health IT infrastructure from legacy solutions to cloud-based solutions for storage, app development, and other IT initiatives calls for changes in infrastructure architecture for more dynamic solutions that can scale to meet current and future technology needs.

Healthcare organizations have expressed interest in SDx technology but are still hesitant to adopt and deploy the solutions.

A report released by ZK Research earlier this year attributes evolving IT infrastructure technology, which Markets and Markets researchers cite as the reason for general SDx growth, as one of the major reasons why healthcare organizations have been slower to adopt SDx solutions.

“Historically, hospitals and other healthcare institutions have been slow to adopt new technology, as maintaining the status quo was viewed as safer than risking disruption from new technologies,” ZK research stated.

ZK research touched on SDN specifically stating that healthcare IT decision-makers are charged with finding a balance between staying with legacy networking solutions that may not be the most advanced, but are known to be secure, and emerging technologies that have not been fully tested in the healthcare industry, but could potentially improve operations.

“IT departments in healthcare organizations are under tremendous pressure to become the enablers of a digital strategy,” ZK research found. “The network will play a key role in the shift to digital healthcare, as most of the enabling technologies are network centric. It’s time for the networks in healthcare institutions to evolve away from legacy architectures to a software-defined network.”

SDDC technology is also emerging as part of the SDx market and can potentially assist healthcare organizations in storing more data for analytics purposes. SDDC covers virtualization concepts geared toward automating and abstracting data center resources, and SDDC uses abstraction to bring different components of infrastructure architecture together.

While SDx technology is not strictly cloud technology, it shares similar functions when it comes to automation and management.

More than half of healthcare organizations polled in a recent survey have already moved mission critical workloads to the cloud or a software-defined data center. Healthcare organizations are also virtualizing other parts of their infrastructure and are generally more open to cloud computing.

While cloud and virtualization are part of the same family, they do not offer organizations the same services. However, it could be argued that organizations planning to or already embracing cloud technology have already experienced SDx technology in some respect based on the similarities between the two technologies.  

Similar to cloud and other virtualization technologies, HIPAA compliance always plays a large part in IT decision-maker’s choices when implementing new technology. While cloud vendors are making strides towards becoming HIPAA compliant, virtualization is slightly behind the curve.

As healthcare organizations continue to adopt more high tech solutions such as predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and connected medical devices, the infrastructure supporting that technology needs to advance as well.  

Dig Deeper: