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Virtualization Growth Continues in Health IT Infrastructure

Enterprise data virtualization growth continues for health IT infrastructure but organizations need to take certain precautions before implementing virtual environments.

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

The projected growth of virtualization across enterprise industries indicates that server virtualization is potentially the future of health IT infrastructure, but healthcare providers will need to take a number of additional security precautions to prevent breaches and other undesirable events.

Health IT infrastructure virtualization

Virtualization is one of the key reasons why the data center security market is expected to reach $15.49 billion by 2024, according to a new report by Grand View Research, due in part to virtual server adoption along with cloud platform implementation.

According to the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Server Virtualization, “the server virtualization infrastructure market is defined by organizations that are looking for solutions to virtualize applications from their server hardware or OSes, thereby improving server hardware utilization and associated hardware costs while increasing agility in delivering the server capacity that applications need.”

“With a growing demand from data center users to safeguard their information and the major initiatives taken by the governments as well as industries to regulate data security and privacy, the industry is expected to grow at a rapid rate over the coming years,” the report found.

Organizations potentially face challenges with implementing and deploying virtual servers in conjunction with legacy solutions if IT staff are not prepared to manage the process.  Providers often struggle with being understaffed or lacking virtualization expertise.

Frequent reports of cloud data breaches should inspire vigilance in healthcare organizations researching server virtualization options. Healthcare organizations have more to lose than entities from other industries when data is compromised, due to stringent HIPAA rules and regulations. Data breaches not only compromise patient information, but can result in heavy fines and a damaged reputation.

“The gradual shift toward cloud computing as well as cloud storage and networking is bringing out numerous potential vulnerabilities and risks of exposure of important and crucial information,” the Grand View Research report found. “This has awakened the industry to strive for better and advanced security measures at various levels in the data center networks.”

Server virtualization is still in the early stages of full enterprise implementation. Virtualization continues to grow more secure as hackers expose weaknesses, which are then patched over by developers as they present themselves.

“The growing number of security breaches and the increasing number of attacks on data centers across the world are creating awareness regarding the need of improved security measures, both physical, and logical, “ the report pointed out.

Additional security solutions, like secure data access control (SAC)  are typically implemented along with server virtualization, each specifically designed to protect virtual servers along with physical servers. Health IT infrastructure is changing and so are the security solutions surrounding and protecting data.

SAC is growing along with other cloud-based and virtual technologies. SAC solutions provide additional security by defining access groups based on which data is required and where it is stored.  This separates data into virtual “containers,” which can prevent malware from corrupting data stored in other locations

While data in the breached container may be corrupted, the malware is “contained” within the virtual walls of the section of the virtual server it breached. Data stored in other containers remains protected.

Data breaches are alway negative, but when they do occur, developers are able to use insights from the breach to continue to improve on virtualization infrastructure with new security implementations like SAC and containers.

The goal of virtualization is to eliminate hardware expenses and increase productivity by providing quick and mobile access to data. Healthcare organizations need to weigh the cost and potential productivity benefits of virtualized IT infrastructure and servers against the potential security risks. Virtualized environments are expected to grow and organizations are likely to benefit from it in the future.

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