How Hybrid Cloud and Colocation Accelerate Healthcare Innovation

By Kurt Stoever, Chief Product & Marketing Officer, DC BLOX
Twitter: @DCBLOXinc

In an information-laden world, healthcare still stands as one of the globe’s most data-intensive industries. In fact, UNC Charlotte’s Health Informatics and Analytics Data Science Initiative reports that up to 30 percent of the world’s stored data is healthcare-generated. Furthermore, it’s expected that healthcare will be the fastest-growing industry in terms of data creation. Healthcare is primed to surpass the media and entertainment sector’s data generation and match that of the financial services industry by 2025.

Valuable data is being generated from new medical equipment, patient devices and even virtual assistants. The opportunities for enhanced services are abundant. Yet, healthcare is facing an increasing struggle with an array of challenges. These include: cost pressures, heightened demand for data decentralization and mobility, skill shortages, rapidly increasing storage needs and, above all, data security. One study of 188 IT decision makers notes that most healthcare IT leaders have experienced some type of data disruption within a 12-month period. This can be attributed to the fact that extreme data growth challenges the healthcare organization’s ability to manage and protect mass amounts of information across their network.

The Cloud Fix for Healthcare Data Growth
The hybrid cloud is proving to be a valuable solution for meeting a range of healthcare demands. In fact, reports show that the global healthcare cloud computing market alone will be worth more than $40 billion by 2026. Surveys also suggest that in just two years, healthcare providers’ hybrid cloud deployments will jump from 19 percent penetration to 37 percent.

Traditional on-premises strategies require significant capital investment to keep up with rapid data growth. They also demand continuous maintenance and are less flexible in responding to emerging models for healthcare data access and patient expectations. On the other hand, hybrid cloud solutions deliver enhanced scalability and data mobility. The public cloud enables institutions to increase or decrease data storage and application demand as needed and only pay for what they use. The cloud also facilitates the collection of patient data from a new generation of health-related applications and IoT devices. According to the article “Applications of IoT in Healthcare,” example applications include remote health monitoring, glucose monitoring, heart-rate monitoring and even ingestible sensors — all of which require network-accessible applications that collect, store and analyze the data.

However, there are still inhibitors to moving all healthcare infrastructure to the public cloud. Healthcare industry compliance regulations are a major factor limiting the use of public cloud for certain data and applications. Concerns over security, data sovereignty and process integration are other reasons why elements of infrastructure and data need to be maintained in a local facility and be more closely managed by the healthcare enterprise. An existing data center or server room may be sufficient for this purpose, but a colocation data center with robust connectivity may be a better choice for a hybrid cloud deployment.

The Colocation Solution for Hybrid Cloud
Partnering with a trusted data center provider for colocation and cloud connectivity represents a huge opportunity for optimizing security, scalability and cost efficiency.

A colocation data center with rich connectivity provides the following benefits to a hybrid cloud solution:

  • Enables enterprises to maintain control of certain equipment, data and processes
  • Outsources operations to expert staff to run the data center and networks
  • Reduces capital expenditures and helps to optimize operational expenses
  • Offers high levels of physical security to protect equipment and data
  • Provides redundant power to ensure uptime for critical applications
  • Delivers private network connectivity to a multitude of cloud providers

A multi-tenant data center offloads the capital expense associated with expanding or upgrading an existing facility to accommodate ever-expanding enterprise data growth, turning it into an operational expense that is paid out as it’s needed. In addition, by outsourcing the operations of the local facility and network connectivity, resources are kept available to focus on the core business: delivering healthcare services and improving patient outcomes.

A data center built to at least Tier 3 standards (according to the Uptime Institute’s specifications), means that two backup systems are in place in the event that utility power is lost. Resilient networks also ensure that data moves without loss. As healthcare applications become increasingly mission critical, reliability becomes a vital requirement.

The most important aspect of hybrid cloud implementations is the connection between the local data center and the public cloud application. Since sensitive data may be passed over this connection, it is important that private connections are used and that the public Internet is avoided. A private connection will also ensure the lowest possible latency for performance-sensitive applications. For many healthcare organizations, it will also become necessary to establish connectivity to multiple cloud providers to optimize cost and application performance.

By marrying the advantages of the public cloud with the benefits of a secure multi-tenant data center, healthcare institutions can achieve the scalability and flexibility needed to progress. This combined solution ideally positions its users for innovation, eliminating the infrastructure anchor that is inhibiting their ability to deliver enhanced outcomes and increased patient satisfaction.