It’s Time for a Multi-Cloud Approach that Works for Health IT

Supporting multiple cloud providers is now a requirement in healthcare. Health IT organizations are being asked to manage cloud-based solutions ranging from SaaS-based applications to collocated equipment at a service provider. A recent survey found 35 percent of healthcare organizations have more than half of their data or infrastructure in the cloud. In fact, there are several reasons to consider off-site cloud providers as the destination for some of your healthcare IT needs.

The typical drivers for using cloud-based products include cost, performance and security. Other considerations are access to capital, staffing and regulatory needs. In some cases, healthcare organizations are not looking to make any further IT investments in data centers and have developed a “cloud first” mentality, but this may lead to an oversimplified view of a more complex challenge.

Just as every organization must have its own specific business model, each healthcare provider’s data strategy must be driven by the needs of its specific clinical and business workloads – not the other way around. Cloud strategies are ever-evolving rather than a simple one-off solution. For example, on-premises solutions are better for risk reduction and monitoring, while off-premises solutions may offer better manageability, ease of procurement and cost. For this reason, every healthcare provider must determine its priorities to optimize a cloud strategy that matches the best location for their data and applications.

A multi-cloud infrastructure offers the ability to identify and monitor information across the entire healthcare data ecosystem through a single pane of glass, simplifying intelligence at the point of care and collaboration among clinicians. This strategy provides a consistent operating model and simplified management across private clouds, public clouds and edge locations, along with the flexibility to adapt to future changes in health IT.

Common Control Plane for Multi-Cloud

Dell Technologies cloud-based solutions have been designed to deliver flexibility and choice – to help cut through the chaos. Our solutions offer access, not just to the hyperscalers (e.g., Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google GCP), but also to hundreds of VMware Cloud Providers (VCPP). Your private cloud runs on our best-in-breed Dell EMC infrastructure, and the VMware Cloud Foundation further controls the environment so you can seamlessly move workloads among any public cloud provider.

To fully leverage a multi-cloud environment, your organization needs to contain the cloud sprawl to effectively manage the entire application portfolio. We have seen many organizations move to the public cloud without a long-term plan in place, ultimately forcing them to bring workloads back in-house to control cost, performance and security. We recommend a pragmatic approach, assessing applications and workloads for the best landing zone. With a common control plane management interface, your organization can visualize, evaluate costs and control risks associated with the computing environment between multiple cloud providers.

Steps to Building your Multi-Cloud Environment

1. Modernize your in-house infrastructure – this includes choosing best-in-class hardware and software with the most resilient and efficient architecture to build upon. This architecture can be a traditional three tier architecture (separate server, network, storage platforms), engineered converged infrastructure (CI) or hyper-converged (HCI) architectures that have an appliance like design. When you move from traditional three tier to converged to hyper-converged designs, management is simplified, and total operating costs are lowered. HCI offers single button upgrading and patching as opposed to individually patching all the disparate components. Typically, 20%–50% of patches for software bugs can introduce new, unknown problems. The goal of modernizing IT infrastructure is to not only lower costs but provide the most resilient and performant platform to run critical applications.

2. Virtualize the environment – Most health IT operations have virtualized applications or workloads today — in fact 93% of hospitals are already using VMware products. To set the foundation for cloud-like operations, increasing automation and instrumenting the environment is necessary. Applications should be surveyed and qualified for the ability to be cloud-enabled. Assessing the cloud readiness of workloads will provide the basis to determine the optimum path. IT should aim to create a self-service portal where your internal customers can perform basic needs and IT administrators can see how workloads perform. The more automation is placed into an IT environment the more it allows IT operations to be further streamlined.

3. Transform your operating model with automation – Workload placement optimization should be based on criteria of cost, performance and security incorporating application discovery. You should discuss whether a workload is best to stay in-house, move to a private cloud, or public cloud. Using the VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF), can help you place the correct workload in the best destination based on your defined criteria.

Learn More

Dell Technologies can help your healthcare organization remove barriers to simplify your multi-cloud adoption. Visit the Dell Technologies booth #2121 at HIMSS 2020 to speak with our subject matter experts to learn more.

UPDATE 03/05/2020: Since the publication of this blog, the HIMSS 2020 conference in Orlando has been canceled. If you’d like to learn more about our solutions, please visit the Dell Technologies Healthcare page.  

Clark Lefavour

About the Author: Clark Lefavour

Clark leads the Global Alliances presales teams for Americas Telco, Cloud Service Providers and Industries. A successful entrepreneurial executive in high technology companies, Clark was a founder of successful startup companies focused on the telco, network and services markets prior to joining Dell Technologies.