Healthcare sector is rapidly embracing cloud computing

There’s no question that the healthcare sector is rapidly embracing cloud computing. Recent studies by IDC and CDW both show that one-third of healthcare organizations are already implementing or maintaining cloud-based systems – ranking third among sectors polled, just behind large enterprises and higher education.

Healthcare IT organizations estimate spending 21% of their budgets on cloud computing over the next two years, with videoconferencing, e-mail storage and online learning solutions leading the charge. Virtualization and IT-as-a-service are two other popular routes to the cloud for healthcare firms.

Several factors are driving this industry-wide IT transformation:

  • Pressures to reduce total cost of IT ownership and accelerate time-to-value on IT investments
  • A growing demand for secure, anytime/anywhere access to critical clinical applications (e.g., patient health information) for improvement of patient care
  • The need to streamline compliance in the face of mounting regulatory complexity

By leveraging the cloud, healthcare organizations – especially small hospitals, clinics and physician practices -can focus less on managing IT and more on delivery of high-quality patient care. Reduced demands on internal IT staff coupled with cost-efficient, pay-as-you-go fee structures are especially enticing for these smaller care providers.

But as healthcare organizations move key services like e-mail, data storage and clinical records to the cloud, these mission-critical applications become remote applications. Every user becomes a remote user and every office and site becomes a remote site. Network health becomes paramount because every cloud-based transaction is “remote” and thus entirely dependent on network performance.

The transition to cloud-based services makes network performance management one of IT’s most vital functions. Any healthcare provider’s ability to derive business value from cloud computing, and mitigate associated business risk, depends entirely on its ability to guarantee service levels from the user’s perspective.

To manage network performance in the cloud, you need to:

  • Continuously monitor network performance end-to-end from the cloud environment (whether it’s private, public or hybrid) to your users and back – even over networks you don’t control.
  • Quickly identify where and why performance is degrading – even within the virtualized cloud infrastructure itself.
  • Verify that cloud providers are meeting service level commitments.
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Jim Melvin is currently the President & Chief Executive Officer at AppNeta. Prior to AppNeta, Jim was the vice president of marketing and security solutions at RSA, The Security Division of EMC. In this role, he was responsible for corporate, field, solutions, channel, and partner marketing; corporate and marketing communications; interactive and web programs; press and industry analyst relations; and RSA Conference events worldwide. Jim has been awarded three US patents in fault tolerant systems design. He holds a B.S. in computer engineering and an M.S. in management from Worcester Polytechnic Institute; and sits on the board of directors at Fortisphere, and Cape Cod Beer.