Why Colocation May Be the Best Option for Your Healthcare Organization

John Lynn

More and more healthcare organizations are reducing their data center footprint and moving to colocation facilities. These outside services are much more effective than those a healthcare organization could provide in-house. In fact, a survey by Uptime Institute showed that 7% of data center operators had suffered at least five business-affecting data center outages — over twice the percentage of offsite providers that suffered outages (3%). As our reliance on applications increases, decreasing downtime becomes a priority in hospitals and health systems.

While colocation is now common in healthcare, the strategy is generally not to immediately move everything in a data center to an outside provider. Instead, there are a number of qualifying events that cause a healthcare organization to rethink their data center strategy and embrace an offsite setup.

The most common reason healthcare organizations use outside services is that their own data centers are old. In some cases, the old data center runs out of space, and the cost to create a new data center is much higher than the cost of renting or leasing offsite. In other cases, the old data center needs to be upgraded or moved to meet higher standards, which is likewise too costly compared with renting or leasing.

Another relatively common time to consider outside services is when an organization purchases new equipment or software. Moving existing hardware from an in-house data center to an offsite provider can be a pain and can involve downtime for your end users. However, when hardware needs replacement, it’s the perfect time to transition; you can use the old hardware to provide service to end users until the new hardware is set up in the offsite data center. The same is true when organizations purchase new software. In fact, in their contracts, many organizations include cloud-hosting for new software with the colocation provider.

Finally, healthcare organizations can consider offsite data centers when they lose key employees. Running an onsite data center is challenging, and doing it effectively requires some technically skilled people. When even one of these people leaves, the organization faces challenges maintaining the uptime, availability and reliability their applications need.

Finding a replacement can be difficult and sometimes impossible. This is particularly true in some rural areas where the pool of technology talent is weak, and convincing qualified technology experts to relocate there is tough. This difficulty, along with overreliance on a few individuals, pushes many CIOs to explore colocation options for their healthcare organizations.

As a leader in your healthcare organization, you should know when to make the case for moving from an in-house data center to an offsite provider. Trying to make the case without one of these qualifying events is challenging and likely to fall on deaf ears. However, any of the situations described above are perfect times for you to transition to a more reliable, more cost-effective and more secure colocation environment.

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