Unreliable and non-responsive IT systems are a no-no in healthcare. As technology weaves its way into every aspect of the practitioner-patient relationship, one IT-blow could literally mean life or death.
Healthcare’s technological infrastructure cannot afford to be delicate. Yet worryingly, the sector is a prime target for cyber criminals. According to IBM’s X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2017, healthcare cyber attacks made up more than one-third of all incidents in 2016.
There is a dire need for a data centre solution that provides stronger security against data breaches, delivers reliability, simplification, compliance and instant access to much-needed records.
For healthcare, the answer could be ‘hyperconvergence’.
A hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is a software-defined solution that combines storage, compute, networking and virtualisation in a single unit. It removes the need to make separate purchases of servers and management tools, and means healthcare facilities could cut inessential costs from new, existing or merged data centres.
Healthcare IT is increasingly turning to HCI to support clinical application deployment. The outcomes of which means practitioners can experience more efficiency during their patient interactions and have instant access to the resources they need.
Why all the hype?
HCI can run in-house or in the cloud – for IT overseers it maintains their control over deployments and storage. Also, having the entire infrastructure in one place means fewer administrators are needed to manage it. This leads to fewer user errors, more visibility, greater control, stronger security and improved productivity.
Other benefits include:
- Scalability:resources can be scaled based on fluctuating business demands
• Virtual Machine (VM)-centricity:a focus on VMs as the cornerstone of enterprise IT
• Data protection: easier to restore data when lost or corrupted
• Flexibility: greater mobility for applications and workloads
• Data efficiency: reduction in storage and bandwidth
• Cost efficiency: waste is reduced through a sustainable, economic model
Hyperconvergence paves the way for desktop virtualisation (DV), which is particularly advantageous in the medical environment. Medical practitioners in hospitals move from bed to bed to check up on patients and discuss treatment – DV allows desktop operating systems and applications to run on centralised systems, meaning practitioners can access information and records from any authorised system throughout the hospital. Placing computerised systems at the end of beds instead of notes, for example, could allow practitioners to instantly update central records, meaning more efficiency and accuracy.
It is possible to implement DV without using hyperconvergence technology, but then you will lack predictable scalability.
Making the transition
At SCC, we have successfully employed hyperconverged networks in many organisations. Therefore, we know it is imperative to invest time in the planning of a HCI deployment, so that business and technical requirements are fully understood. The appropriate staff and provision to manage the transition should also be identified.
While all HCI solutions offer staple benefits, they fluctuate in the way these benefits are delivered.
- Does the solution support a single hypervisor, or can multiple hypervisors be run on the same platform, if needed?
- In terms of hardware, what flexibility does the solution provide and what components are required?
- Is the storage accessible to other data centre services or only to services running in the HCI setting?
Time to invest
A report by Grand View Research forecasted sales in the global HCI market would reach £10.27 billion ($13.96 billion) by 2024, indicating that now’s the ideal time for healthcare organisations to migrate to HCI. Not only can the infrastructure secure patient data, but it can also process the information much quicker, giving healthcare providers more time back to provide care.
The patient experience is vital in the survival of the healthcare sector. Thus, it’s essential to invest in the healthcare technology your organisation needs to communicate efficiently and securely log data.
Kat Cooke is Senior Content Writer at SCC. She was previously Senior Journalist at the Aesthetics journal, and has worked for Sky News, providing live coverage of the last two General Elections and the EU Referendum. Kat has a 2:1 degree in Journalism from City University London.