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Cloud Solutions Getting

started with cloud computing

hen Emory Healthcare in Atlanta began advancing its disaster recovery (DR) plan to include a complete remote backup data center, its staff had two choices: build the data center themselves or co-locate at a premium facility. To build its own data center, Emory would have to focus on many items such as power, cooling, networking, building codes, uptime, around-the-clock staffi ng and future expan- sion needs, all functions which are not its core business of providing healthcare. After a year-long analysis, the IT team decided the capital costs were just too exorbitant. The physical plant was the biggest cost, and it simply didn’t make sense to invest time and money when Emory had a high-grade data center nearby. That high-grade data center, the GNAX Health primary data center called AtlantaNAP, was the fi rst step in Emory’s jour- ney from in-house data computing and storage to a private healthcare cloud.


Dee Cantrell is CIO, Emory Healthcare. Mariano Maluf is CTO, GNAX Health. For more on GNAX Health:

In addition to meeting the organiza- tion’s DR needs, the

IT department was facing budget cuts. Like many other healthcare IT departments, there just wasn’t enough money to do everything the team had in mind. Emory needed alternative ways to deliver new applications and meet long-term IT goals, while also maintaining FTE neutrality.

Emory is a large academic medical center, and the IT department receives requests for new niche applications fre- quently. The bottom line: Emory’s data center was expanding, but its budget wasn’t.

10 February 2012 Dee Cantrell Mariano Maluf

Offl oading ancillary applications helps data center expand without adding cost or staff. By Dee Cantrell and Mariano Maluf

Solution Emory’s IT team identifi ed a list of second-tier niche ap- plications within their data center that required large amounts

On-premise hardware and software is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Savvy IT departments, such as Emory’s, are beginning to test the waters of cloud-based technology options, thus moving closer to materializing the vision of healthcare IT as a service.

of technical attention. Although each application comprised a small amount of space, altogether they occupied a signifi cant amount of IT resources. And unlike the organization’s core clinical and fi nancial systems, if one of these applications was down for a day, patient care could go forward and bills would continue to go out the door. To alleviate staffi ng and cost pressures, the team partnered with their hosted data center provider to build a private healthcare cloud for Emory. This provider not only manages the systems and data, but also the relationship with the ap- plication vendors.

Emory has many niche ancillary applications, and in working with these smaller companies, the IT team learned that they lack the staff and development teams to keep up with leading-edge technology. By offloading these niche applications to a private healthcare cloud,


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