Businessman in suit works on laptop computer in data center server room

Hyperconvergence for Healthcare: Reevaluating Your Data Center Strategy

12 Sep 2017 by Isabel Ticlo

This article originally appeared in Volume 2, Issue 3 of <theScript> Quarterly digital magazine.

Today’s sophisticated cybercriminals are capable of breaking through even the toughest security barriers. And healthcare is one of their prime targets, making up more than one-third of all attacks in 2016, according to IBM’s X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2017.

The Identity Theft Resource Center found that during 2016, healthcare organizations in the United States fell victim to 376 data breaches, as shown in Figure 1. The 2016 Ponemon Institute Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis reported the average cost per lost or stolen healthcare record is $355. And healthcare organizations typically house hundreds to thousands of records. So the costs quickly rise exponentially.

Number of data breaches in the United States from 2014 to 2016 by industry chart

Figure 1

In search of a solution

Healthcare organizations are in desperate need of a data center solution that provides stronger security against data breaches, simplification, compliance and fast access to needed records.

One option is outsourcing your data center to a cloud service provider. This act can mitigate data center recovery expenses and maintenance fees associated with managing your infrastructure.

Outsourced data centers provide the space, power, cooling, connectivity, disaster recovery and security a healthcare organization may not be able to achieve on-site. Equipped with generators, cloud providers house data and physical and digital security protocols. They also have the expertise needed to provide greater security.

Smaller organizations and rural healthcare facilities that don’t have the space, capacity or budget for an in-house data center benefit the most from the cloud. Cloud service providers typically supply a pay-as-you-go subscription model with a few initial setup fees and lower maintenance costs.

“At first, hospitals and healthcare providers were dragged kicking and screaming into the digital world, but now most are recognizing that not only can they save costs and be more efficient, the data at their fingertips can help drive revenue,” says Brian Cea, business development manager for healthcare at Insight.

Why healthcare needs hyperconvergence

Another alternative, Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI), is starting to gain traction in larger and urban healthcare organizations, which have been slow to adopt it. HCI is a software-defined solution that combines storage, compute, networking and virtualization in a single unit — and eliminates the need to make individual purchases of servers, management tools and more, Cea explains. Healthcare facilities can cut extraneous costs from new, existing or merged data centers through virtualization and secure cloud solutions.

“Hyperconvergence provides more data storage, computing power and better access to data — all by more cost-effective means.” Cea adds.

HCI can run in-house or in the cloud, and it keeps IT administrators in control of deployments and storage. Having the entire infrastructure in a single place means fewer IT administrators are needed to manage the environment. This leads to fewer user errors, more visibility, greater control, stronger security and increased productivity.

A report by Grand View Research forecast the global HCI market to reach $13.96 billion by 2024, so it’s a good time for healthcare organizations to migrate to this technology. HCI provides clinics and hospitals with a system that not only secures patient data with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-level controls, but it also processes the information quickly so that healthcare providers can spend less time waiting on outdated systems and more time providing care.

Top Challenges Solved by Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Figure 2 — Source: 2015 Technology Business Review customer research

As Figure 2 shows, HCI helps IT leaders across industries meet modern workload needs (24%), resolve backup challenges (22%) and reduce downtime (21%). Healthcare IT is increasingly turning to HCI to support clinical application deployment. As a result, physicians experience greater efficiency during their rounds and have instant access to the resources they need in order to make more informed decisions.

Healthcare IT provider Cerner partnered with Citrix and Nutanix to create a hyperconverged Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) for seamless delivery of its Cerner Millennium library software. Running Citrix XenDesktop, the Nutanix hyperconverged system quickly deploys Citrix virtual desktops. The biggest benefits? Security, optimized workflow, increased productivity, compliance, lower costs and simplification.

Baystate Health in Massachusetts is another example. The healthcare provider ditched plans to build a new data center in favor of adopting HCI, and the company hasn’t looked back. Thanks to the new system, Baystate is able to support 8,000 virtual desktops across its health system — and it slashed its storage costs in half.

Evaluating data center strategy

IT infrastructure is at the core of every healthcare organization. As technology evolves, the need to regularly evaluate your data center strategy for the best security and recovery solutions increases. Before making the decision to embrace hyperconvergence, the cloud or a hybrid infrastructure, your organization should address the following questions:

  • Are you expecting growth in the coming years? If so, how much?
  • Do you have enough computing power not only for today, but for the years to come?
  • Are your current software applications able to support hyperconvergence?
  • Do you have the resources necessary to make the move yourself?

Transitioning to hyperconvergence or the cloud can be tricky because it involves the allocation of thousands of patient records.

“I have seen customers just throw money at networking and data center challenges without doing the proper assessments,” says Cea. “This is where you need someone who can assess your whole environment and be sure you have the right solutions to manage today and transform as your needs change. If you have issues with your infrastructure, patient care can be seriously impacted. Working with experts who can assess your needs and minimize risk is key.”

Do you have the right systems in place to simplify data management, enhance security, ensure compliance and transform care? Working with you, Insight can help you determine the best data center solution for your organization’s unique needs.

Bringing it back to patient care

At the heart of every healthcare investment is the desire to improve the patient experience. Your patients count on your organization to keep their data safe and to use it to provide exemplary treatment. It’s important to invest in the healthcare technology your team needs to communicate and track records, including a data center strategy that meets today’s expectations.

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