With the digitization in progress of health care, patient care organizations now generate a significant amount of data and all information, from electronic health record data (EHR) to laboratory tests and testing exams. Search and email imaging needs to be efficiently archived
In today's evolving IT landscape, CIOs and other IT leaders in the healthcare industry now face the challenge of developing a robust data infrastructure strategy to effectively manage all of this data and beyond on-premise data centers, options now include colocation in an existing data center, hybrid cloud solutions, and public cloud.
A research report from The Uptime Institute, a third-party organization focused on data center performance and efficiency, notes that the march towards digital transformation will continue to shape data central approaches in all the sectors. "In particular, managers must effectively manage the proliferation of hybrid IT architectures, defined as a mix of local data center capabilities and off-premises resources such as colocation, cloud and hosting." Hybrid is now the norm , creating technological, organizational and management complexity ".
A survey conducted by KLAS Research, published last December, found that 70% of healthcare organizations have moved at least some IT-impremises applications or infrastructures. While most of those using offsite computing do so through a hosting environment, future plans rely heavily on the cloud, according to the survey results.
Several years ago, the leaders of the Moffitt Cancer Center, a nonprofit cancer treatment and the research center based in Tampa, Florida, faced the complexity of managing the steady growth of the organization. and the need for an IT infrastructure that keeps pace with that growth.
Founded in 1987, Moffitt is a cancer designated by the National Cancer Institute center that includes a 206-bed hospital, with a large outpatient comprising three facilities and a nationally recognized research institute, with over 220,000 square feet of space research laboratory. Moffitt has 336 medical employees and 100 independent doctors, as well as about 200 additional doctors.
Over time, the Moffitt Cancer Center has expanded its 373,000-square-foot structure to 2 million square feet, which has in turn increased its overall footprint and the amount of data generated, accessed and stored. In 2004, Moffitt opened a new data center in the hospital basement to house its growing IT systems. However, by 2011, the on-premises storage and server infrastructure was approaching capacity. In the past seven years, the organization has had to rapidly evolve its technology environment and, as part of this evolution, Moffitt's leaders had to rethink the existing data center strategy of the organization.
Seven years ago, the organization's leaders considered several options, including the expansion of the existing data center and the outsourcing of ongoing IT operations to a third-party supplier, according to Jennifer Greenman , vice president and CIO of the Moffitt Cancer Center, who joined Moffitt in 2013. "At that time, the leaders of the organization made the determination that a co-location model was the most sustainable, flexible and scalable to fuel our future growth, "he says, noting that Moffitt has a large, growing and diverse set of data.
Moffitt collaborated with Charlotte, NC-based Flexential, a provider of hybrid IT data centers previously known as Peak 10, to move some of the cancer centers data assets to the data center of the East Tampa company.
"During that time, we continued to maintain our on-premise structure, and so we leveraged the colocation facilities for the expansion of new technology infrastructures and certain targeted activities that we need continuity," says Greenman. . "Our rapid infrastructure growth has continued from that moment to the present day, and in 2016, we had the unique opportunity to move to a newly built, state-of-the-art facility built by Flexential. decision to move our data center environment to the new data center, "essentially consolidating the organization's resources into a single position.
By migrating to a colocation approach, Moffit's leadership argues that this allows the organization to focus its internal resources on its patient's core care-expertise. "From an operational mission, our unique mission is to contribute to the prevention and treatment of cancer, and this mission is deeply rooted in our culture and practice," says Greenman. From an IT standpoint, uptime is critical as doctors, doctors and other Moffitt staff need immediate access to patient data and research data.
With the move from an on-premise data center to a co-located model, Moffitt's leaders were trying to streamline processes and operations, increase redundancy and high availability, reduce costs and improve performance .
"[Flexential’s] Physical structures and operational controls provide us a high degree of reliability in providing assistance to a complex population of patients and allowing for cutting-edge research," says Greenman.
To illustrate one of the benefits of using colocation services, Greenman notes that when Hurricane Irma was aiming for Florida at the start of September 2017, the hurricane would be severe. and he was monitoring a trail above Tampa Bay at some points. "As we prepared for the event, my team had a sincere trust in the power and structural resilience of our colocation facility, and this confidence was reinforced by the proactive measures taken by Flexential to prepare and communicate in the days and hours. which led to the landing, "he says.
The area of Tampa Bay was spared from a hurricane directed by Hurricane Irma and Moffitt had relatively minor problems through its infrastructure, mainly due to power outages, he says. "Our confidence is so high that we are moving our disaster recovery services into the environment," says Greenman.
Greenman notices another significant benefit following the migration to a hybrid IT provider: "Our ability to efficiently manage and administer services within this environment has improved, in particular thanks to the high level of service provided by the colocation partner. "He adds that special feed requests are housed in a few days rather than weeks, as Moffitt has lived in the past.
"These processes have had a positive effect on our discipline in the management of the data center environment, and this model offers a greater degree of transparency in energy consumption, which informs our ability to manage expenses and financial forecasting.In addition, the access and control controls provided are robust and optimized, which is important for demonstrating compliance with stringent regulatory requirements, "he says.
By migrating its IT operations to Flexential, Moffitt consolidated its infrastructure into a single location during a period of significant growth all while simplifying processes and operations, notes Greenman. As a result, he says, Moffitt has achieved redundancy, availability and improved performance.
The Flexential facility at East Tampa is a level 3 data center, according to The Uptime Institute's four-level classification system. The Uptime Institute has established the data center criteria for power, cooling, maintenance and the ability to withstand a breakdown on four levels. A level 3 data center offers 99.982% uptime and a high degree of redundancy and improved fault tolerance. "These standards can be stimulating for any institution that builds and maintains itself," says Greenman.
He adds, "This partnership provides us with insurance and resilience, two of the most important benefits as a health service provider."  Challenges in the transition to colocation services
It is important for healthcare organizations to understand the factors to consider when evaluating a hybrid colocation or IT model and what challenges to plan in the transition to colocation services.
For Moffitt Cancer Center, the transition from an internal IT strategy to a colocation approach, or the "journey from the basement," as Greenman refers to it, required very careful planning.
"Planning becomes a critical success factor, and when you work with a third-party company, planning is even more essential." You also need a huge amount of detail and coordination, "he says. "In the healthcare environment, there is little tolerance for operational disruptions, ensuring the transition from one data center environment to another and ensuring that it is performed transparently is a very delicate but critical issue for success. "
The steps involved include coordinating with suppliers regarding connectivity and the shift of technology resources in a way that was not a nuisance to operations. In addition to working with Flexential, Moffitt contacted a third-party consulting firm to help with strategic planning. "There is no over-planning for these types of transitions," he says, adding, "Another important lesson is to give a thought to the long-term space and energy needs, much, or perhaps even more, as if you were planning an on-site environment. "
A key principle of any major technology initiative is to ensure that the IT teams and business units involved are involved in planning and execution, Greenman says, and this applies when migrate to colocation services. "It is necessary to reinforce the principle that it is a business project, the data center is not just infrastructure and operations," says Greenman.
When rethinking the organization's approach to IT infrastructure and data centers, organizational leaders also need to take into account future growth and the expansion of data needs .
Going forward, Greenman states a key advantage of the colocation approach is the inherent capacity for expansion, both in terms of physical resources and network connectivity, including hyperscale providers, which will be a key factor for 39; future business-based innovation.
"We will have the ability to seamlessly connect our data center environment and migrate workloads from our data center environment to a public cloud resource and vice versa, as is logical for our business needs," he says.