In healthcare, there are a lot of expectations and pressures around data management. There’s the expectation from users that resources will be provisioned quickly and that those resources will be proactively managed from a support perspective, Jennifer Greenman, vice president of information technology and CIO at Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa, Florida, said at the HIMSS 2018 conference. There’s also the expectation from users that data management platforms and systems will be resilient, will always be available, are fully recoverable should some type of disruption occur and are secure.
Greenman explained that these were some of the main drivers that pushed Moffitt to adopt a colocation model, adding that the power and cooling constraints of Moffitt’s old data center was a significant driver as well.
The benefits of a colocation model
Since Moffitt has moved over to a colocation model they have experienced many benefits, including “a higher degree of resiliency in our technology infrastructure,” Greenman said.
She added that it was also important to Moffitt to have a foundation and a data center environment that could support business-driven technology innovation. “This [colocation] model provides us with the platform on which to do that and that’s important, not only for space [and] power but also… in terms of facilitating connectivity to hyper-scale providers and public cloud in the future,” Greenman said.
For example, if there is a need for a special power request, in the past it would have taken weeks for that request to be accommodated. With colocation, Greenman said, that request is accommodated within days.
A colocation data center model also provides enhanced security of the physical data center, Greenman added, something that can be challenging to do with an on-premise environment.
Moffitt also found that a colocation model “facilitates a far more transparent review of power consumption which facilitates better expense management and financial modeling around our data center,” Greenman said. “And last, but certainly not least, the access audit controls are very robust and streamlined and that’s essential for us to demonstrate compliance with our very stringent regulatory requirements.”
Moffitt’s lessons learned
If your healthcare organization is considering adopting a colocation model, Greenman has some advice that she gleaned from her own experience of moving Moffitt to a colocation model:
Understand the impact the reduction of your on-premise data center footprint will have as you’re building out your ROI and total cost of ownership models. This will help your healthcare organization make an informed decision about whether colocation is the right strategy, Greenman said.
When considering moving over to a colocation model, Greenman said it’s important that healthcare organizations carefully consider their future space and power needs. This is particularly important as you enter into negotiations with vendors, she said. For example, if you expect that your data center environment is going to grow you may want to consider pricing protection or right of first refusal.
Make sure your moving plan is detailed and well-coordinated. This means figuring out how you want to approach cable mapping, architecture review of infrastructure dependencies, vendor coordination, and business continuity evaluation, for example. Having a detailed and thorough plan beforehand is especially important in healthcare where there is little tolerance for downtime during transitions such as this, Greenman said.
Finally, make sure that all the impacted IT teams and business areas are involved with the planning.