Is moving to the cloud right for your healthcare business? This post will take an in-depth look at the ways in which a company should prepare for cloud migration, typical challenges that may come up, the most compelling benefits and an overview of the migration options available.
What is a Cloud Migration?
Cloud migration is the process of moving various components of an organization’s computing environment to a cloud computing platform. The migration can be from a traditional on-premises data center or a different cloud environment.
Healthcare companies choose to migrate to the cloud for multiple reasons, such as updating their technology stacks, increasing system availability or increasing agility. Cloud infrastructure can be constructed to assist in maintaining HIPAA compliance, eliminating some of the complexity involved in keeping sensitive data secure.
How Difficult is a Cloud Migration?
A well-planned and methodical cloud migration should not be difficult, though there are bound to be some challenges. Following are some of the most common difficulties encountered during a cloud migration.
- The absence of a clear strategy based on business objectives will hinder the migration.
- Maintaining data security during the migration can be difficult as information is transferred from its existing location to the cloud.
- A lack of compatibility with legacy systems can mitigate the benefits of cloud migration.
- Insufficient research into the cost of migrating can lead to budget overruns.
- Systems may be inaccessible during the migration and negatively affect internal users and customers.
- A company’s technical resources may not have the necessary skills or experience to manage cloud systems.
Most of the difficulties faced during a cloud migration can be minimized by ensuring the prerequisites discussed in the next section are addressed.
Prerequisites for Cloud Migration
Companies engaging in a cloud migration should take the following measures before moving to alleviate the potential problems associated with the process.
- Before committing to cloud migration, customers should have a sound business reason for the move. Taking advantage of the benefits of cloud migration, which we will discuss shortly, is the most likely reason to migrate.
- Develop a clear cloud migration strategy before beginning the process. This includes identifying the specific components of the current infrastructure that will be migrated and the order in which they will be moved. Not all applications are easy to migrate and initial apps should be selected carefully.
- Decide if a single cloud or multi-cloud approach works best for the business. The diverse offerings of public cloud providers give customers options for many types of services. Companies should also consider how public, private, and hybrid cloud environments can best meet their objectives.
- Establish baselines and key performance indicators (KPIs) before the migration. This allows a company to compare performance after the systems are migrated to ensure they are acceptable.
- Ensure data security and integrity are maintained during the move. Sensitive data is most at risk while being transferred from its terrestrial home to the cloud.
Cloud Migration Benefits
Taking advantage of the potential benefits of cloud migration is the reason most companies consider the move. Many of the processes made available by a cloud migration can help healthcare organizations achieve and maintain HIPAA compliance.
Following are some of the most valuable benefits that companies enjoy when migrating to the cloud.
The virtually limitless storage and compute resources available in the cloud give organizations the flexibility to scale up or down to address changing business situations. This flexibility enables a company to quickly grow to handle increased customer demand and save money by scaling down resource use when appropriate.
Reducing Data Security Risks
Data security is one of the leading concerns of IT decision makers during any system change or update. One of the most important benefits of cloud migration is improved security. In fact, one report found that companies using AWS saw a 43% decrease in security incidents. By employing cutting-edge security technologies, hiring the best security talent, and providing the ability to automate many security tasks using code, cloud service providers (CSPs) enable healthcare organizations to improve their security posture while reducing the work needed to stay secure.
In order to reduce your security risk during a cloud migration, the first step is understanding of the IaaS Shared Responsibility Model. This details the division of responsibility between the cloud customer and the CSP when it comes to security. The cloud provider is responsible for protecting the infrastructure that runs all of the services offered in the cloud (hardware, software, networking, and physical facilities that run cloud services). The customer is responsible for securing the data that they put in the cloud.
If you work with a managed service provider (MSP) for cloud implementation, your MSP should also have a shared responsibility model and your security responsibilities will be reduced.
Reducing Maintenance Time and Expenses
Partnering with an MSP can reduce the cost and inconvenience of performing system maintenance. The MSP will be responsible for maintaining and updating the infrastructure, enabling customers to devote their time and resources to activities that drive business value, such as application development.
Reducing Capital Costs
Migrating to the cloud significantly reduces capital costs. Servers, storage devices, and compute capability can all be obtained on a pay-as-you-go basis. This eliminates the need for large purchases and protects an organization from the costs and waste of over-provisioning hardware.
Reducing Staffing Costs
Reduced staffing costs often accompany a cloud migration. Reliance on the cloud provider’s technical staff to maintain infrastructure reduces the need for in-house resources. Taking advantage of the cloud-centric experience of the vendor’s staff can minimize the training necessary to use cloud resources efficiently.
Improving Employee Collaboration
Data in the cloud is accessible from any network-connected location. Collaboration is fostered by the ease with which information can be shared with colleagues across geographic boundaries, making it possible for new ideas to drive business decisions.
Improving Operational Efficiency
The interoperability of cloud solutions contributes to an overall improvement in operational efficiency. Cloud providers can offer streamlined systems that are immune to the data compatibility issues often faced when coordinating the information flow of legacy systems.
Faster Development Cycles
The collaboration and efficiency possible with cloud platforms will often result in faster development cycles. This enables companies to take advantage of emerging trends and more efficiently address customer demands and expectations. In today’s competitive market, the ability to bring products to market promptly can be the difference between success and failure.
Business Continuity During Disasters
HIPAA mandates that healthcare businesses maintain access to the health information in the face of a disaster. Business continuity plans must be in place to ensure systems and sensitive data can be restored effectively. Cloud-based disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is becoming an increasingly attractive method of addressing this requirement.
Integrated, Updated, and Accessible
The result of a well-planned and executed cloud migration should be an integrated, updated, and accessible computing environment that addresses the performance, reliability, and compliance concerns of healthcare organizations. Cloud computing enables companies to maintain the privacy of sensitive data while increasing agility and offering an enhanced customer experience.
Types of Cloud Migration
Cloud providers have extensive portfolios of services available to their customers. These services are categorized based on the type of resources a customer requires as well as the extent to which they want to use the cloud platform. Three main cloud models offer customers varying levels of control and support.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS offers on-demand access to applications hosted by a cloud provider. Users are billed monthly or annually and can access the apps from mobile devices or web browsers. Vendors usually ensure uptime with service level agreements (SLAs) and are responsible for managing, maintaining, and updating SaaS applications. Adopting a SaaS solution is the easiest way to get involved with cloud computing and can be a viable first step in a migration strategy.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
In this cloud computing model, a complete cloud-hosted platform is made available to customers so they can build, run, and manage applications. The cloud provider manages everything except the customer's applications and data resources. PaaS solutions offer enhanced collaboration and the ability to test new technologies without risk.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
This cloud computing model provides on-demand access to cloud computing infrastructure that can be configured and used as the customer wishes. The cloud provider hosts and manages the hardware and virtualization technologies used to build systems. The customer is responsible for managing data, applications, and middleware. An IaaS solution gives customers the level of control of a traditional data center with the flexibility and scalability afforded by the cloud.
The benefits of cloud migration for healthcare organizations are too great to ignore. Companies operating in the healthcare sector can save money, upgrade their technological standing, and better serve their customers with an effective cloud migration strategy. Taking the first step can be intimidating and demands a level of knowledge regarding cloud computing that an organization may not possess.
Working with an experienced partner enables a company to enjoy the benefits of cloud migration without running into unexpected difficulties. At Cloudticity, we have the experience and knowledge needed to help your company get the most out of cloud migration. Schedule a free consultation and learn how we can help you modernize your healthcare business. Or read our free eBook, The Business Case For Public Cloud in Healthcare to dive deeper into why the cloud is the right move for you.