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Back to the future: Why on-premises healthcare data storage matters again

On-prem data storage is making a comeback in healthcare due to cloud cost overruns, security concerns, and the rise of hybrid infrastructure.
By admin
Jun 27, 2024, 1:10 PM

The healthcare industry, like many others, was swept up in the initial cloud euphoria. The allure of scalability, reduced upfront costs, and the promise of simplified IT management led many organizations to migrate their data storage to the cloud. However, the reality of cloud storage often doesn’t match the hype. Unexpected costs, security concerns, and regulatory compliance challenges have led to a growing trend of “cloud repatriation” in healthcare. Organizations are reevaluating their data storage strategies, and on-premises storage is making a comeback.

The financial realities of cloud storage

One of the primary drivers of the cloud repatriation trend is the financial reality of cloud storage. While the cloud initially promised to reduce capital expenditures (CapEx) for hardware and infrastructure, the operational expenditures (OpEx) associated with cloud storage can quickly escalate. Egress fees, data retrieval costs, and the need for specialized cloud management skills can significantly impact an organization’s budget over time.

The “pay-as-you-go” model, while seemingly flexible, can lead to unpredictable costs, especially with the increasing volumes of data generated in healthcare. As a result, many organizations are finding that on-premises storage, especially with modern solutions like Storage as a Service (STaaS), offers a more predictable and cost-effective approach.

Data control and security in the spotlight

Data control and security are paramount in healthcare. The industry is subject to stringent regulations like HIPAA and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which mandate strict controls over patient data. Cloud storage, while often secure, can present issues around data ownership, governance, and the potential for unauthorized access.

High-profile data breaches in the cloud have further heightened these concerns. Healthcare organizations are realizing that maintaining on-premises storage for critical data can provide an added layer of control and security. This doesn’t mean abandoning the cloud entirely, but rather adopting a hybrid approach where sensitive data is stored on-premises, and the cloud is used for less critical workloads.

The rise of hybrid infrastructures

The future of healthcare data storage is likely to be hybrid. Organizations are increasingly recognizing the benefits of combining on-premises storage for critical data with the flexibility of the cloud. Modern storage solutions like Pure Storage’s Evergreen//One enable this hybrid model by providing seamless data mobility between on-premises and cloud environments.

This hybrid approach is particularly relevant for medical imaging and AI/analytics. These applications generate massive amounts of data that require high-performance storage, driving up costs for organizations using a pure cloud model due to egress and retrieval fees, as well as storage costs for large volumes of data. On-premises storage can provide the necessary performance and security for these workloads, while the cloud can be used for archiving and less time-sensitive analytics, potentially leading to significant cost savings.

Real-world hybrid success: St. Joseph’s Health

St. Joseph’s Health, the largest charity care provider in New Jersey, exemplifies the successful implementation of a hybrid infrastructure. Faced with aging legacy systems and the looming threat of ransomware attacks, St. Joseph’s turned to Pure Storage to modernize its data storage. By combining on-premises flash storage solutions with cloud-based backup and recovery, the organization achieved:

  • Enhanced performance: Clinicians can now access medical data in seconds, improving patient care and operational efficiency.
  • Robust data protection: Immutable snapshots and rapid restore capabilities ensure business continuity in the face of cyber threats.
  • Cost efficiency: The hybrid model allows St. Joseph’s to leverage the cloud for archiving and less time-sensitive analytics, optimizing costs while maintaining high performance for critical workloads.

Other hybrid use cases in healthcare

Beyond medical imaging and AI, hybrid infrastructures are finding applications across the healthcare landscape.

Electronic health records (EHRs) – On-premises storage can ensure the security and accessibility of sensitive patient data, while the cloud can be used for data sharing and collaboration among healthcare providers.

Flash arrays based on NVMe architecture and TLC (triple level cell) technology are ideal for high-performance uses such as many EHR tasks due to faster data access and reduced latency — University of Kentucky Health System was able to reduce costs and improve its EH performance benchmarking using such flash storage. It uses the denser, higher latency QLC (quad-level cell) flash for less-demanding jobs and for backups.

Genomic data – TLC flash’s low latency and rapid access is essential for data-intensive genomics analysis. The massive datasets generated by genomic sequencing can be stored and processed on-premises for research purposes, while the cloud can be used for long-term archiving and data sharing with the broader scientific community. Using on-premise of r critical tasks and cloud for less-critical tasks can help reduce Opex.

Telemedicine: Hybrid models can support the real-time data transfer and storage needs of telemedicine applications, ensuring secure and reliable access to patient information during virtual consultations. While on-premise TLC flash solutions can deliver the performance and access telemedicine requires, the cloud offers access from different locations as well as support less time-sensitive data needs. Ultimately, a hybrid approach allows for flexible scaling telemedicine to accommodate peak times without overinvesting in on-premise infrastructure.

The future of on-prem data storage

The healthcare industry is at a turning point in its data storage journey. The initial cloud rush is giving way to a more nuanced approach that recognizes the value of on-premises storage. The financial realities of cloud storage, the need for data control and security, and the rise of hybrid infrastructures are all contributing to this shift.

As healthcare organizations move forward, it’s crucial to prioritize outcomes when making technology decisions. Whether it’s on-premises, cloud, or a hybrid model, the chosen solution should align with the organization’s specific needs and goals. The future of healthcare data storage is not about choosing one over the other, but about finding the right balance to deliver the best possible care.


This article is powered by CHIME DHI and sponsored by Pure Storage.

About Pure Storage

Pure Storage redefines the healthcare data storage experience and simplifies how healthcare organizations protect, consume and interact with data. Pure powers EHRs, enterprise imaging, back-office systems, and more with secure storage that transforms data into value, providing quicker insights for better patient care.

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