May 18, 2017

Hybrid Cloud is Now the Preferred Option within Healthcare

Kris Gösser
Kris Gösser

Datica Alumni — Former Chief Marketing Officer

Last week we published our inaugural quarterly report looking at innovation and transformation within healthcare. A lot of great insights are jam-packed into the journal, but perhaps the most interesting is the infographic comparing cloud trends over the last three years.

cloud adoption in healthcare infographic

We compared survey results from HIMSS’ 2014 survey on cloud adoption with their equivalent 2017 survey. What we found is healthcare’s definition of the cloud is changing.

Shift to IaaS

For the longest time Software as a Service, or SaaS, a.k.a. web-based productivity tools, has traditionally been associated with the term “cloud” ever since Salesforce’s “No Software” campaign hit pay dirt in the early 2000s. Using the cloud meant using software.

Within healthcare, we’re not so sure that the definition of cloud is scoped only to SaaS anymore.

The increase in interest in Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) between 2014 and 2017 is a good example. Hospital administrators view disaster recovery, data storage, data backup, and data archival critical and costly responsibilities. Turning to cloud-based services is helping manage costs and increased complexity. This was most evident in the simple summary of IaaS adoption:

  • In 2014, 15.3% of hospital CIOs surveyed said they planned to use IaaS services.
  • In 2017, 75% surveyed said they planned to use IaaS services within the next year.

That’s a remarkable jump.

Data Data Everywhere

The 75% number is due to market pressures, but likely a singular pressure more than the rest: Simply put, there is more health data being created than CIOs know what to do with it. Wearables are prevalent, digital health products are increasingly being adopted, and mobile health is maturing. Data is being generated from all angles and it’s up to the CIO to ensure it’s secure, interoperable, and cost effective.

Even a few years ago there was a lot of data but it was manageable. It’s not anymore, that’s the clear signal: The acceleration of data creation is to the point where non-cloud-based IaaS services—like on-premise backup services—are simply too expensive and cumbersome.

Because of the explosion of data, hospital organizations have many strategies to consider as they contemplate how to manage it all. What is clear from the survey data is cloud-based IaaS-like services are now in the plans of most CIOs.

Hybrid Cloud is the preference

What didn’t make it into the infographic but is still very interesting to study is the type of cloud configuration. Since 2014, we’ve seen a massive shift to hybrid cloud structures.

The concept of the cloud comes in three primary infrastructure types: Private, Public, and Hybrid. Private means largely single-tenant vertical stacks, which is believed to be the most secure per common convention. Public clouds are another way to say multi-tenant structures. Hybrids are somewhere in between.

The biggest shift was in organizations moving towards hybrid models. It makes sense when you consider their concerns with security, cost, and complexity. Public structures work fine with SaaS type apps, but sometimes the preference for a private model is strong with data-based needs. That organizations are mixing and matching with hybrid models correlates with the push towards greater IaaS service adoption due to the explosion in data.

How would you classify the type of cloud environment used by your organization?

Environment Type 2014 % 2017 %
Private Cloud 37.1% 28%
Hybrid Cloud 36.3% 58%
Public Cloud 23.4% 10%
Unsure 3.2% 5%

What this means to healthcare

We believe all this data points to an increased acceptance of cloud-based solutions to emerging problems faced by hospital technology teams. In particular, it means the “bit has flipped” on security and privacy: In many ways, the cloud is now viewed as a safer alternative than outdated on-premise solutions.

We expect a continual interest and acceptance in IaaS-like services, and even PaaS-like services, which by and large will shift the industry’s overall definition of the “cloud” to more than just software.

tag Cloud Computing


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