November 19, 2014
After years of healthcare information technology experience, hospital IT managers should be good at handling even the most complex projects, right? But the excitement over Healthcare IT — the pervasive perception that it is an IT “cure all” — is causing some of us to lose focus on the basics. There are challenges when it comes to Healthcare IT in hospitals and IT departments still need to stick with the processes and procedures that have served us well, and avoid making these common mistakes when tackling any cloud-based project:
Improper Planning: I know what you are thinking, “Improper planning can doom an IT project? So, what’s new?!” It’s true that poor planning can doom ANY IT project of scale, but what’s noteworthy here is that the cloud uniquely compounds the problem.
The unlimited expandability of cloud resources can quickly lead you into a project black hole from which there is no escape. Most IT departments have been burned by virtual image sprawl at some point or another. This is often due to issues such as redundant server images, test servers deployed and forgotten, and “rogue” IT admins setting up services that were never approved or requested. However, in the traditional hardware environment, there was an underlying resource cap. When the cap was reached, a “cleanup” would invariably be done, and all would be well again. For a while, anyway.
Unfortunately, the nearly unlimited resources of a cloud environment provide for no built-in limit. Sprawl can become overwhelming and — most important — extremely expensive. If your cloud solution isn’t a cost-saver, you may find the plug pulled on your entire organization’s cloud strategy. The solution: Develop and stick to stringent planning documents, processes and procedures to govern your cloud-based projects.
Poor Architecture & Design: Joined at the hip with improper planning, poorly designed architecture may be more the by-product of weak understanding than a lack of diligence. In many organizations, the cloud is considered merely an extension of IT, and as such, is being managed by administrators and engineers who remain steeped in the traditional hardware paradigm.
In other words, the people tasked with moving your organization to the cloud are starting with a knowledge and experience gap. They are forced to learn as they go. Not good. The result is an inadequate or clunky architecture, as well as plenty of wasted time and resources. The solution: Make sure your staff gets proper upfront training or outside professional cloud consulting assistance.
Security: For some, Healthcare IT carries a certain (unfounded) mystique of innate security. This, along with traditional techie eagerness to get this great new solution in place, often results in back-burner security priorities.
During implementation, security protections are routinely relegated to afterthoughts, to be addressed only after completing the more “important” tasks. As with any IT project, security must be at the forefront of your planning and design strategy. The cloud is inherently public, resulting in added levels of complexity that can create major security issues. The solution: Without hesitation, secure your cloud infrastructure before deploying resources and data.