Healthcare has lagged in its adoption of multi-cloud—but that might not be a bad thing. Here are the top multi-cloud takeaways for healthcare CIOs, and the key mistakes to avoid.
It’s no secret that the healthcare sector has been one of the slowest to adopt enterprise cloud computing, even with the moderate increase we saw as a result of the urgent shift to telehealth and remote working during the pandemic.
But that’s understandable: healthcare is one of the most highly regulated industries, not to mention that it’s riddled with critical but outdated systems. Combined, these can make it much more difficult for healthcare organizations to make the cloud transformation more fully.
Nevertheless, the cloud’s benefits, like flexibility, agility and cost efficiency, can’t be ignored—there’s a reason why this year, the amount of enterprise data stored in the cloud will, for the first time, surpass the amount of enterprise data stored on-premises. As a result, many healthcare CIOs has lamented over their IT department’s inability to keep pace with broader enterprise cloud adoption. However, every cloud has a silver lining (pun intended)…
There may be a hidden benefit to having been forced to wait and watch as other industries were able to take greater advantage of the cloud: it has provided healthcare CIOs with a virtual crystal ball that allows them to observe the same evolution they will likely experience on their organizations’ cloud journeys—and avoid making the same mistakes.
The Enterprise Evolution to Multi-Cloud
While it’s possible to move entirely to the cloud, in most cases, it’s not practical, especially in healthcare. There will almost always be a reason to keep at least some computing resources onsite, whether it be cost, security or data compliance and governance.
That led to hybrid-cloud—shifting some computing resources to the cloud while leaving others on-premises. The hybrid-cloud model uses a single public cloud service provider. Ideally, that public cloud service provider could supply best-in-class SaaS, PaaS and IaaS for a reasonable cost, but enterprises have discovered that’s rarely if ever the case.
Enter: multi-cloud. The multi-cloud approach to enterprise cloud computing takes the hybrid-cloud model and introduces multiple public cloud service providers to meet various needs. Today, a vast majority of enterprises have shifted to this approach, and the idea is now gaining steam among healthcare IT departments, too: 90% of healthcare IT professionals believe that multi-cloud is ideal for their organizations, and more than 50% expect their organizations to be operating a multi-cloud infrastructure within three years.
The Challenges of Multi-Cloud
But by peering into their virtual crystal balls, healthcare CIOs can observe that multi-cloud adoption by the broader enterprise world has not been without its own set of challenges:
– Cost: While a potential benefit of the cloud is cost savings, improper data management in multi-cloud environments can quickly lead to ballooning costs. According to Gartner, organizations often overspend on cloud services by up to 70%.
– Complexity: Many companies wrongly assumed that moving to the cloud meant they were buying an outcome when they were actually simply buying infrastructure. That means that the hardware was no longer theirs to manage, but the ultimate responsibility for their data remained with them, and that data was now spread across an immensely complex data estate with dozens of workloads in multiple public cloud environments, all with disparate management tools.
– Vulnerability: More complexity means a greater number of potential vulnerabilities in an enterprise’s attack surface, creating more risk of breaches resulting from threats like ransomware.
Getting Ahead of the Multi-Cloud Curve
Many enterprises are now revisiting their multi-cloud strategies in light of these challenges and are having to make sometimes costly adjustments. Learning from this, healthcare CIOs can avoid the same mistakes as they prepare to transition to multi-cloud infrastructures.
There are two key steps every healthcare CIO should be thinking about when it comes to their organization’s multi-cloud future:
1. End-to-end visibility: Knowing where all of your data lives and understanding how your IT resources are being used are keys to reducing the complexity of multi-cloud environments. With overspending on cloud as high as it is today, holistic visibility allows organizations to critically assess if their data is stored in the right cloud, in the right way. Additionally, it ensures CIOs can apply the right tools to protect data and reduce risks such as ransomware and regulatory non-compliance.
2. Automation: It’s already difficult for IT departments to keep up with the growing volume of high-value data that healthcare organizations are creating, which is on pace to reach a 36% compound annual growth rate by 2025, and the challenge will only grow as they start relying on multiple cloud service providers, as threats to data integrity multiply and as healthcare data privacy regulations become stricter. Healthcare CIOs must explore AI-driven technology that can fully autonomously self-provision, self-optimize and self-heal data management services for the vast amounts of data in the multi-cloud environments they will soon be dealing with.
Tackle the healthcare-specific challenges of today’s cloud and prepare now for the multi-cloud future of healthcare IT by carefully observing the cloud journey that has taken place in other industries and proactively following the steps outlined here.
About Rick Bryant
Rick Bryant currently serves as the healthcare chief technology officer at Veritas Technologies where he focuses on helping healthcare organizations improve their data management and protection. His 20 years of technical executive leadership includes previously serving as chief information officer at the Texas Children’s Hospital.