The healthcare industry is experiencing an IT transformation: A growing number of health tech businesses and other healthcare organizations are moving to the public cloud. They recognize the immense potential for capitalizing on innovative cloud-based technologies, gaining on-demand scalability, enhancing security, and improving resiliency—all while avoiding large capital expenditures.
For many organizations, the destination is clear. But the journey might still involve a number of challenges. From technical skill gaps to internal resistance, these challenges could significantly slow a cloud migration or completely halt its progress.
In this post, we’ll examine the top seven cloud migration challenges facing healthcare organizations and identify some key strategies for addressing them. With the right plans in place, your organization can overcome possible problems, succeed with your migration, and maximize the value of the cloud for achieving your business objectives.
What are the top cloud migration challenges?
The potential benefits of cloud migration are becoming clear for many healthcare organizations, but not all are prepared to move forward. What could stand in your way?
Moving to the cloud can mean change for many internal groups, from DevOps to accounting. Using public cloud services could require new ways of building apps; managing IT environments; engaging with customers and partners; budgeting and paying for technology; and more. Your teams might not be eager to alter their existing workflows or adopt new tools. They might not understand the value of cloud migration to the business, or why a shift in IT resources requires changes to non-technical departments.
Resistance can come in multiple forms.
IT teams might be unable to get approval from company leaders for cloud migration initiatives. Or other teams might be slow to adopt the tools or process changes that are required for a successful move. Addressing this resistance will be critical for realizing the full benefits of cloud migration.
Technical hurdles of app modernization
If your plan is to move existing applications to the cloud, your developers might need to make some modifications to those apps before they are ready to run in cloud environments. Simply rehosting apps—lifting and shifting them to the cloud with minimal changes—might be possible for apps you have already built with modern architectures. Other apps might require re-platforming—optimizing some elements for cloud services. Legacy monolith apps will require even more work: You might need to implement containers, break monoliths into microservices, or more deeply rearchitect apps. All of this work can take significant time and resources.
Modernizing apps might require skills that your DevOps team doesn’t currently have. You might have hired your developers to support a particular legacy application. Significantly modifying that app so it will run on the cloud could require additional training.
Beyond preparing apps for the cloud, you need team members who can manage cloud environments. An operations team with experience managing on-premises environments might not have yet have the skills to select, configure, and manage cloud services. Getting up to speed with cloud services could require training and additional guidance from outside experts.
Without proper planning and execution, moving vital applications to the cloud could result in downtime. For some apps, significant interruptions are simply unacceptable. You need to ensure that cloud migration won’t negatively affect users’ productivity or your clients’ ability to provide quality services and care.
Downtime can jeopardize not only your company’s reputation and revenues but also the success of subsequent app migrations. If you experience downtime with the first app you attempt to migrate, you might not be given an opportunity to migrate a second app.
Security and compliance
For healthcare organizations, maintaining tight security and ensuring regulatory compliance must always be top priorities. You need to make sure you are safeguarding protected health information (PHI) and adhering to HIPAA rules at all times. HIPAA violations can be costly, and data breaches can be even costlier.
Your team might have solutions and processes in place for protecting your on-premises environments. But are you ready for the cloud? Many cloud service providers (CSPs) offer services for creating HIPAA-compliant environments or achieving HITRUST certification. Still, selecting and configuring the right cloud services can be time-consuming, and costly processes.
Once you’ve migrated apps, your organization must manage the cloud environments where they are running. You need to make sure you are optimizing the resources you are paying for, continuously maintaining compliance, and meeting service-level agreements. In addition to ensuring your team has the requisite skills, you need to plan for the costs involved with cloud administration.
Organizations often move to the cloud to shift their cost model. Cloud migration allows you to avoid large capital expenditures and instead pay as you go for the cloud services you consume. You can scale your cloud resources up or down—and scale your spending—quickly, as your needs change.
Nevertheless, you should be prepared for the true costs of cloud migration. For example, you will need to factor in the costs of modernizing apps, which might include expenses for retraining your existing team, purchasing new tools, or hiring additional personnel. In addition, you should consider the costs of implementing new security controls and training your team to manage apps in cloud environments.
Of course, you must also take into account the subscription fees you will pay once your apps have been migrated. Monitoring your cloud utilization will be essential for keeping these subscription fees in check. If teams begin to subscribe to redundant services or let resources go underutilized, you could face fast-rising cloud costs that put your cloud initiative at risk.
What strategies can help you address these challenges?
Successfully addressing the challenges of cloud migration demands a multi-faceted approach.
Focus on business benefits
Your IT team might be sold on cloud migration, but you still could face resistance from other teams—including leadership teams who ultimately control the budget. Overcoming that resistance requires a solid business case for cloud migration. Emphasize how making a move to the cloud will enhance innovation and agility while avoiding large-scale capital spending.
As you prioritize apps for migration, consider first focusing on apps that will deliver a rapid return on investment. Then highlight those successes with your skeptical or resistant colleagues. Earning buy-in across the business and building early momentum will be critical for long-term success.
Make migration a multi-step process
One of the best ways to avoid downtime is to migrate apps first to a non-production environment. You can perform a full battery of migration, rollback, and re-migration tests to validate your current plan and fine-tune your process. Having a tested, validated process in place will enable you to avoid any issues during the migration that could cause downtime.
Augment your team with outside experts
To address the technical challenges of app modernization, cloud migration and management, and security and compliance, consider augmenting your team with external, healthcare-focused experts. Yes, you can train your team to handle some of these vital functions. For example, you might choose to train existing developers to containerize apps rather than hiring outside personnel. But working with outside experts can often accelerate those training processes.
Partnering with the right managed service provider (MSP) can also streamline important—and time-consuming—tasks, such as all the tasks involved with achieving HITRUST certification. It might take you hundreds of hours to implement the security controls needed to achieve certification. By working with an MSP, you can inherit a large number of controls and greatly simplify the process of configuring the remaining ones. You can achieve certification faster and spend less money than working toward certification alone.
In some cases, it might make sense to completely hand over certain cloud migration or cloud management tasks to an experienced MSP. You might decide to refocus your internal team on developing new app capabilities while leaving cloud administration to the MSP.
Continuously monitor and optimize costs
Understanding the true costs of cloud migration is critical for a successful move to the cloud. You need to accurately estimate and budget for the costs of app modernization and implementation of new security controls.
Going forward, you need ways to continuously monitor and optimize cloud costs so you can avoid being surprised by bills and also ensure continued business support for your cloud initiative. Working with an MSP can give you better visibility into all of your cloud utilization and spending. You can monitor all cloud resources from a single pane of glass, work with an expert to right-size your environments, and autoscale workloads to avoid wasted spending.
Ready to take the next steps toward cloud migration?
Moving to the cloud can deliver a range of important benefits for healthcare organizations, from gaining access to innovative technologies to eliminating large capital purchases. But several challenges could prevent your organization from completing your migration or realizing its full value.
Cloudticity can help you address a range of cloud migration challenges. By working with Cloudticity experts and capitalizing on our fully automated managed services platform, your organization can streamline your move to the cloud and maximize benefits.
To learn more about Cloudticity Cloud Migration Services for Healthcare download the solution brief. Or schedule a free consultation to learn how we can work together to turn your healthcare cloud dreams into reality.