In my previous position as a Manager of Enterprise Network and Mobility for a major metropolitan healthcare provider, the business had procured over 100 applications that lived in the cloud. However, at that time, we had yet to consider managing our IT network infrastructure from the cloud.
Today, as the Director of Technology for Healthcare Solutions at Extreme, I have talked to many healthcare industry professionals about the now mainstream adoption of cloud-based technologies. Although once hesitant to embrace cloud, we have seen the transition of many critical healthcare applications, including email, contact centers, electronic medical records (EMR), and health information systems (HIS), to public cloud software-as-a-service models.
However, healthcare hasn’t been quite so bullish when it comes to network infrastructure management and the transition from on-premises to cloud-based management. According to a recent Extreme Networks survey, the adoption rate of cloud-managed infrastructure within healthcare is only 14%. The most common reason for the low adoption is the perception that cloud-managed networking solutions are not clinical grade and don’t offer the reliability and security needed for mission-critical hospital environments.
So, what are some of the top objections I hear from healthcare companies regarding network infrastructure? Below, I’ve outlined these concerns and how a cloud-based network management solution meets the critical demands of clinical environments.
It is essential that a loss of connectivity to the public cloud will not impact network traffic or the underlying infrastructure. There should not be any dependency on the cloud management system for the infrastructure to function. Be warned that some solutions, based on a centralized control plane, require a dependency between the infrastructure and the cloud. As a result, the loss of the public cloud impacts infrastructure operations. But with a distributed network architecture, if network devices lose connectivity to the cloud, the network itself is not affected in any way. More importantly, a quality user experience remains uninterrupted.
Unlike some competitive solutions, if your cloud subscription service expires, your users will still be able to connect and access network resources. Letting your subscription lapse may result in a temporary loss of visibility and network performance insights; however, your healthcare network users are not impacted.
A key benefit of cloud management is the continuous innovation and continuous delivery of new management features and new network visibility insights. However, configuration changes and firmware updates of network devices remain in your IT organization and network administrators' strict control and change management procedures.
While that might have been the case a few years ago, there have been considerable advances in cloud-based security. The top cloud vendors— AWS, Google, and Microsoft Azure— have spent billions on security and have massive teams of cybersecurity experts and data scientists, far exceeding any individual enterprise's capabilities. However, a cloud networking vendor should take extra precautions to protect customer data. Third-party auditing of your vendor’s cloud security practices should be mandatory, and the solution should hold multiple cloud security certifications.
Furthermore, many next-generation network security solutions now leverage machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to detect and remediate threats faster. Since ML/AI requires a massive data pool to learn from, as well as significant compute resources, it is best suited for public cloud implementations. Much of the innovation occurring in networking and security is via the public cloud.
Do you want to learn more about common myths and misconceptions about cloud-based Infrastructure management? Please take a look at this brief whitepaper. To learn more about the values of cloud management in a healthcare setting, download this solutions brief.