In 1997, the great Steve Jobs said, “I don’t need a hard disk in my computer if I can get to the server faster…carrying around these non-connected computers is byzantine by comparison.”
And 20 years later, we would pretty much all agree with him. “The cloud” has rolled in and transformed computing as we know it.
These days, the cloud isn’t just the domain of start-ups and early adopters—it truly is becoming mainstream and mainstream for enterprises. This is evidenced by the number of large enterprises increasingly looking to utilize the cloud, including companies that made very public statements about their intent and progress at 2015’s AWS reInvest, like GE and Capital One. They are on the journey to the cloud because there are significant business benefits to be gained in doing so. These are benefits that healthcare organizations can, and should, capitalize on.
Specifically, there are four key benefits:
- Reduced and flexible infrastructure costs. With the cloud, in particular the public cloud (e.g., AWS, Azure, Google), the ability to pay for the infrastructure that you use, and only what you use, is much more of a reality, as their pricing models are typically per hour (or even smaller time increments). So simple things like turning off infrastructure that isn’t being used (like overnight or on the weekend), through to more advanced capabilities like elastic scalability—where infrastructure and applications automatically scale up and down based on the actual system load—realize real cost savings.
- Increased deployment speed and agility. With infrastructure being provisioned through code and APIs, the time to provision new infrastructure is measured in minutes or seconds, not weeks. This is because there is no longer any physical infrastructure that needs to be shipped to you, or procured on your behalf. Also, should the infrastructure requirements change, the old infrastructure can be thrown away, with no ongoing cost, and the new infrastructure can be quickly provisioned. This also leads to a much better cost effectiveness of experimentation and testing at a massive scale, as infrastructure can be used and then thrown away, and stop being paid for, when no longer needed.
- Increased scalability and availability. An increasing number of deployment locations—and increasing capacity within those locations, combined with the tooling and capability support in the areas of scalability and availability—makes increasing the scalability and availability much more practical and cost effective.
- Ease and cost of compliance. Cloud providers are increasingly providing tools and capabilities that make meeting compliance requirements such as HIPAA and PCI-DSS easier and cheaper, with a number of these being provided at little or no cost.