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Multicloud by design: 5 key questions for a sound cloud adoption strategy

Many healthcare organizations approach multicloud in an ad hoc way, but multicloud by design helps leaders develop long-term plans for cloud adoption.
By admin
Aug 21, 2023, 8:33 AM

Note: This is the first in a three-article series on multicloud for healthcare organizations. Subsequent articles will go deeper into multicloud by design strategy and provide insights from a key use case. 


Healthcare’s initial migration to the cloud may have been slow compared to other industries, but lately it’s been picking up steam: A recent Google Cloud survey found that 75% of healthcare organizations have adopted cloud services.

Increasingly, organizations are opting for a multi-cloud model, which leverages multiple public services in conjunction with private cloud or cloud-adjacent services. Forrester’s latest State of Cloud in Healthcare report indicated that 73% of organizations are using multiple public cloud vendors. Specifically, the 2022 Enterprise Cloud Index survey from Nutanix found that multi-cloud is the preferred operating model for 90% of healthcare IT decision-makers.

It’s easy to see why when multi-cloud is compared to other cloud deployment models.

  • Public cloud provides increased scalability and requires less physical infrastructure, but healthcare organizations may have trouble maintaining costs and compliance posture.
  • Private cloud retains control of on-premises infrastructure, but it can be complex for some to maintain and may not provide the desired elasticity.
  • Hybrid cloud combines private cloud and public cloud infrastructure. This gives organizations flexibility to choose the model that makes sense for a given deployment, but it can pose management and migration challenges for some; it may also restrict organizations to a single public cloud provider.
  • Multi-cloud offers the greatest control over how cloud resources are used, given the mix of options for both public and private cloud utilization.

Not all multi-cloud deployments are the same, though. All too often, organizations practice multi-cloud by default, deploying applications to the cloud in a highly tactical way with the primary goal of moving them away from on-premises data centers. Email gets its own cloud instance. Electronic medical records (EMRs) and other critical business applications are cloud adjacent, using cloud resources alongside an existing architecture. Research and analytics tools are hosted on whichever public cloud currently offers the best compute rates.

This ad hoc approach may address short-term needs, but it leaves IT teams struggling to determine where workloads are running, manage relationships with multiple cloud vendors, and maintain consistent policies for access, authentication, privacy, and security. In these cases, organizations may experience more disadvantages than advantages of transitioning to the cloud – much to the chagrin of leadership teams that championed the move to the cloud but may not have understood what exactly that meant.

On the other hand, multicloud by design uses a more strategic approach. Here, organizations take the time to develop a cloud migration and deployment plan that looks as far as five years into the future. Such a plan should answer five key questions:

  1. What are our operational goals and technical requirements? Is there an explicit need to exit an owned data center location? Is the organization struggling to attract and retain the expertise necessary to manage on-premises infrastructure? Is there a directive to refocus the responsibilities of IT staff?
  2. What’s the organization’s anticipated financial situation? Does leadership seek to change the balance of capital and operating expenses? Are procurement strategies shifting – for example, by reducing the number of vendor partners? Are staff cuts anticipated, especially in IT?
  3. What’s the optimal placement of IT workloads? Which applications running on virtual machines today are ripe for infrastructure modernization? Which apps – namely EMRs and imaging — have the most stringent hardware and performance requirements? Which apps run at clinics, physicians’ offices, or patients’ homes and would benefit from an edge computing model?
  4. What’s the state of unstructured data? Do copies exist in multiple locations, making it difficult to layer on value-added services such as analytics in a cost-effective way? What’s the organization’s appetite for creating a single-source data repository?
  5. Are the right strategic partners in place? Can vendors support workloads based on where they need to live, not where the vendor wants to place them? Can more be done to maximize existing contracts? Is a vendor willing to let an organization use common components for cloud management, storage, data protection, and so on?

Multicloud by design takes time, and it forces leadership to have potentially difficult conversations about an organization’s future. However, a pragmatic approach to identifying priorities for moving to the cloud helps stakeholders make the right decisions and use the right resources, bringing significant benefits to the organization in the long run.

The past few years were a challenging time for care providers, but the resultant need for real-time information provided opportunities to innovate at an unprecedented pace. As healthcare and life sciences organizations focus on the road ahead, they must develop the agility to pivot quickly to overcome new clinical and business challenges in this data-driven environment. Working with our partner ecosystem, Dell Technologies comes alongside healthcare and life sciences organizations with a focused, deliberate approach to help them navigate the evolving patient care continuum and the current market volatility – allowing them to deliver on the promise of a healthier future. To learn more, visit Dell.com/Healthcare

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