For health tech businesses and other healthcare organizations, public cloud environments offer tremendous potential for accelerating innovation. By moving existing applications to the cloud or building new ones in cloud environments, your organization can tap into cutting-edge technologies offered by cloud providers. At the same time, you can use public cloud environments to scale your solutions, strengthen security, and improve resiliency while avoiding capital expenditures.
Of course, moving apps to the cloud or initiating cloud-native app development can be challenging. You might need to overcome internal resistance to cloud migration, significantly modify your existing apps, and enhance security to ensure regulatory compliance. If you are shifting existing apps, you will have to find ways to avoid service interruptions. And you will need to constantly monitor costs.
Is cloud migration right for your organization? In this post, we’ll explore the benefits of cloud migration, investigate some key considerations for your decision, and highlight best practices for conducting a successful migration while reducing risks.
Why move to the cloud?
Migrating to the cloud can offer a wide range of business and technical benefits for healthcare organizations.
Building and running apps in the cloud often delivers the fastest time to market. Instead of taking months to purchase and deploy new infrastructure, DevOps teams can spin up a new cloud environment in minutes. Teams can start developing and delivering new solutions rapidly.
Many cloud service providers (CSPs) offer advanced technologies—such as data analytics, data visualization, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML)—that you can integrate into your apps and services. Your team can stay focused on your app’s core capabilities while speeding time to market for new solutions that incorporate the latest cloud-based technologies.
Whether you want to expand into new markets, increase your user base, or respond to fluctuating demand, you need the ability to scale apps quickly and cost effectively. When you build and run apps in-house, scaling up will likely mean buying and managing more infrastructure. By moving to the cloud, you can benefit from immense—and immediate—scalability. You can rapidly scale up or down to meet both short- and long-term shifts in demand. No capital expenditures are required.
In the early days of cloud computing, some organizations were reluctant to move to the cloud because they believed they could better protect vital apps and sensitive data on premises. But today, CSPs often provide more sophisticated security capabilities than organizations can cost-effectively deploy on their own.
How well prepared is your organization for an interruption in service? Implementing disaster recovery and business continuity solutions in-house can add significant costs and complexity to IT. By contrast, many CSPs enable you to easily replicate apps and data across multiple geographic locations. If there is an outage in one location, your apps will keep running in another. Your organization—and your customers—can keep operating.
OpEx cost model:
Moving to the cloud enables you to shift from a CapEx cost model to an OpEx model. Instead of spending money to buy, manage, and maintain physical hardware in your own data center, you can subscribe to cloud services and pay as you go. In addition to avoiding large-scale purchases, you can also better align costs with actual utilization: Rather than letting the servers you own sit idle in your data center, you can end cloud subscriptions or scale back cloud environments as soon as your needs change.
How much does cloud migration cost?
Before you begin your move to the cloud, you need to understand what it will cost—both in the short and long term. If you are migrating existing apps, you should determine whether those apps can be moved as they are or whether they need to be modified to run in your target cloud environment. Keep in mind that app modernization—which might entail containerizing apps or breaking up monolithic apps into microservices—can be time-consuming and costly, especially if your team lacks the requisite skills.
Looking ahead, you’ll need to consider cloud subscription costs. Moving to the cloud will save you the pain of large-scale hardware purchases, but cloud subscription fees can add up over time as you consume more services. Continuously monitoring and optimizing cloud spending will be critical. Working with the right cloud managed services provider (MSP) can help ensure that cloud costs do not escalate even as more of your teams use the cloud.
How can you ensure data security and compliance?
For healthcare organizations considering a move to the cloud, safeguarding protected health information (PHI) and maintaining compliance with HIPAA rules must be top priorities.
Healthcare organizations are targeted by cybercriminals more frequently than organizations in any other industry. When attacks succeed, organizations can be subject to such hefty fines and recovery costs that they are driven out of business.
Moving to the cloud can help you strengthen data security by enabling you to take advantage of advanced cloud-based security capabilities. Many public cloud providers also offer guidance and resources for constructing HIPAA-compliant environments and achieving HITRUST certification, which proves compliance with HIPAA rules.
Still, implementing the right security capabilities and controls can be challenging, especially as you navigate unfamiliar cloud services. If your goal is to achieve HITRUST certification—which can help strengthen security while offering a means of competitive differentiation—you might need to implement hundreds of new security controls. Working with a HITRUST-certified MSP can help you streamline that multi-step process of certification.
Going forward, you will also need a plan for implementing continuous monitoring. Securing your cloud environment, complying with HIPAA rules, and attaining HITRUST certification are not one-time events. You will need to address emerging threats, conduct periodic assessments to maintain your certification, and keep up with changing regulations. Partnering with the right MSP and implementing automated workflows can help ease the burdens and reduce the costs of continuous monitoring.
What is the best strategy for cloud migration?
No two cloud migrations are precisely the same. Your starting point, goals, timeline, preferred CSP, and other factors will all affect your migration plan. Still, most organizations benefit from following a multi-step strategy that moves from rationalization to realization.
The first step should be inventorying your existing software and selecting the best applications for migration. Consider the business value of moving each app and the amount of development work it would require.
Assess economic impact:
Before you start your migration project, assess the costs of rehosting, re-platforming, or refactoring apps you are considering for migration. And estimate your ongoing costs for running those migrated apps in the cloud for the future.
You might select several apps for migration to the cloud. Your next step should be deciding which ones should be moved first. For example, you might decide to first move an app that will deliver the fastest return on your investment.
Move to a non-production environment:
Instead of moving an app directly into production, consider shifting it first to a non-production environment. You can define your migration process, enable your team to strengthen cloud skills, and identify potential issues before going live in production.
Migrate to production:
When your process, team, and app are ready, move the app into production. Once that migration is complete, re-assess costs and validate your decisions before moving onto the next app.
Given the outcome of the first app migration, do your app migration priorities still make sense? You might decide to move apps that require less development work, or you might refocus on apps that will help you save the greatest costs by shifting to the cloud now.
What tools do you need for cloud migration?
Your selected CSP will provide some of the tools you need for cloud migration. For example, both AWS and Azure offer migration services, which include tools and guidance, for lifting and shifting apps to the cloud. If you need to significantly modify or modernize your apps—for example, by transforming monoliths into microservices—you might require additional software development tools.
An experienced healthcare-focused MSP can help further streamline the cloud migration process, reducing time, costs, and risks. Cloudticity Cloud Migration Services for Healthcare offers an efficient and effective path for migrating existing apps from on-premises environments to the cloud. We can help you plan your unique journey, execute a pilot migration for each app, and then move each app into production. We can then help ensure a seamless transition to deploying fully automated managed services using the Cloudticity Oxygen™ managed services platform.
Cloudticity Application Modernization Services for Healthcare can help reduce the complexity of app modernization. We can help you transform legacy apps faster, with fewer risks.
How have healthcare organizations accelerated cloud migration with Cloudticity?
Michigan Health Information Network Shared Services (MiHIN) needed to enhance agility for delivering new services and scale up technology resources. The leadership team for this nonprofit, public/private collaboration also wanted to reduce expenses by adopting the variable-cost model of the cloud.
The MiHIN team decided to migrate its health information network to AWS. By using Cloudticity Cloud Migration Services along with Cloudticity Oxygen, MiHIN tapped into Cloudticity’s deep experience with coding, migrating, and managing some of the largest HIPAA-compliant solutions on AWS. Post-migration, Cloudticity continues to manage the organization’s AWS services and assists with compliance issues.
Working with Cloudticity enabled a fast migration: MiHIN fully migrated to AWS within 90 days. The engagement with Cloudticity also helped the organization to shift to the OpEx cost model, achieve HITRUST certification, and deepen its AWS expertise. MiHIN subsequently created an Advanced Cloud Services division to develop innovative services on AWS that will benefit millions of people.
Ready to make your move to the cloud?
Public cloud services can offer important benefits for healthcare organizations. By migrating apps to the cloud, you can tap into innovative cloud-based services, scale up or down as needs change, bolster security, and improve resiliency. Having a migration strategy in place before you start will help you maximize those benefits while minimizing risks.
Cloudticity can help you develop and execute a cloud migration strategy that matches your particular goals and requirements. To learn more about our 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.