August 3, 2021
By Tony Bollinger, Director It Operations; Prodigo Solutions
The Cloud 101
It’s official. “The Cloud” is a hot topic throughout all industries. To some it is a new term, but it is finding its way into more and more discussions, and more and more companies are finding themselves head on with “The Cloud.” Sooner than later, cloud computing will be all the future knows, but in the meantime, the rest of us must make the move there. Of course, it’s easier said than done. So then let’s start with the basics.
What is “The Cloud?” Gartner® defines cloud computing as, “Cloud Computing is a style of computing in which scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are delivered as a service using internet technologies.”* To go more in depth, Gartner states that, “Cloud office migration refers to the process of consolidating and transferring a collection of workloads. Workloads can include emails, files, calendars, document types, related metadata, instant messages, applications, user permissions, compound structure and linked components. Migration of such workloads from at least one permanent on-premises platform or cloud office to a new cloud office environment, across a variety of similar product classes, is typical. During the migration process, enterprises will choose to cleanse their existing platforms by archiving old and outdated data. Migration tools are able to conduct an analysis of the respective workloads, identify if the data is deemed suitable for migration while maintaining its integrity, migrate the data between the source and target, and ensure governance in the subsequent platform.”*
And not to get too complicated, there are several types of cloud technology that an organization should assess when considering a move to the cloud – public, private, hybrid, and community. Gartner defines each of these as:
- “Public cloud computing is a style of computing where scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are provided as a service to external customers using Internet technologies—i.e., public cloud computing uses cloud computing technologies to support customers that are external to the provider’s organization. Using public cloud services generates the types of economies of scale and sharing of resources that can reduce costs and increase choices of technologies. From a government organization’s perspective, using public cloud services implies that any organization (in any industry sector and jurisdiction) can use the same services (e.g., infrastructure, platform or software), without guarantees about where data would be located and stored.”* We believe that this is often recommended for technology organizations.
- “Private cloud computing is a form of cloud computing that is used by only one organization, or that ensures that an organization is completely isolated from others.”* We think that this may be a good choice for organizations with many regulations.
- “Hybrid cloud computing refers to policy-based and coordinated service provisioning, use and management across a mixture of internal and external cloud services.”* We believe that this blended option could be best for those with large data sets but also many regulations.
- “Community cloud computing refers to a shared cloud computing service environment that is targeted to a limited set of organizations or employees (such as banks or heads of trading firms). The organizing principle for the community will vary, but the members of the community generally share similar security, privacy, performance and compliance requirements. Community members may wish to invoke a mechanism that is often run by themselves (not just the provider) to review those seeking entry into the community.”* We consider this as typically for those within similar industries.
Considering whether to move some or all data infrastructure to the cloud is a big decision that should not be taken lightly. There are distinct advantages to moving certain areas of your business to the cloud – cost savings, process efficiency improvements, and freeing up an existing beleaguered IT staff. In the past, the decision revolved around technical concern, like whether or not the technologies are mature enough to handle the compute and resource needs of in-house systems and applications, are they reliable enough to be used for production systems, and how this will impact existing operational procedures and inter-company processes that could be time consuming and costly to change.
Today, these fundamental technology questions are generally no longer a concern. To help with the decision, the focus should be centered around an organization’s needs, like security, tighter administrative controls and management of the environment, more robust scalability, budget, and internal staffing resources and their virtualization knowledge. With modern advances in hardware and virtualization platforms, most virtualized systems will run and perform equally well.
The bigger question becomes how to successfully migrate some or all infrastructure without disrupting day-to-day operations. With each migration there will initially be more stress on IT staff due to a temporary uptick of planning and work to move the systems from old networks to the cloud. Another consideration is how to make a cost-effective move.
Along with the increased workload, there are costs associated with each migration. Consider if moving to the cloud will be cheaper, the same, or more expensive. Some of the cost savings may come out of the planning and due diligence done preparing for the migration – eliminating legacy systems, consolidating smaller systems, and right-sizing others.
Organizations must also understand the potential increased load on internet connections, and the load that will shift from a higher speed internal networks to existing internet link. Be prepared to update security and firewall capacities and handle some potentially increased complexity with making proper endpoint connections and increased firewall rules.
One of the biggest benefits of migrating to the cloud is eliminating the worry of hardware replacement – this is typically the responsibility of the cloud provider. Pairing with a provider that offers hardware includes organizations as a part of the enterprise licensing agreement.
Areas of Cloud Migration
Some obvious ways to start migrating to the cloud are to consider back-office email, applications, and other ancillary systems. For instance, as Office365 has matured and evolved it allows for the ease of migration to help lessen the burden of licensing and administration of staff. This can also greatly free up data center space and lessen costs for on-premises HVAC, power, monitoring, and more.
Another factor when cloud migration is the vast sea of user files. There are numerous vehicles available today for the centralized storage of user files, and team and divisional core documentation, such as storing user files to Microsoft OneDrive or Google Drive. This provides the security of a cloud-based online system and, in most cases, more granularized controls and permissions on the sharing of documents, directories, and sites. This also must be considered as a major planning point. The more time spent up front preparing for the division of data, such as user, location, and organizational chart, the better off an organization will be.
Other areas to look at migrating first would be smaller, less business-critical systems, like test, QA, developer servers, print servers, or even the point solution systems that may be aging but are still relied upon. In a virtualized environment these often-smaller resource systems can be fine-tuned to more exacting levels in the new virtual world while eliminating the equipment from your books.
A Cloud Conclusion
Cloud computing is the future. It is already transforming all industries and is intwining into day-to-day operations of organizations big and small. At Prodigo, we know healthcare, and the industry is well on its journey to cloud migration. Healthcare today is embarking on the cloud solutions journey to solve the nuances of supply chain. Health systems like Indiana University Health, OhioHealth, and McLeod Health are seeking the right technology partners to make the transition to the cloud, and the right solutions to best maximize their cloud investment. Carmen Winfield, Vice President of Procurement Services, McLeod Health, “We are excited to find a solution that supports our cloud-ERP migration and enables us to put our best foot forward.”
It’s time to embrace “The Cloud,” but not before knowing the basics. Each organization should do research to develop unique criteria, determine the cost, and map out a plan and timeline, and select the best type of cloud system for the present and future.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this Cloud Migration series and visit www.ProdigoSolutions.com for more information on how Prodigo’s suite of solutions fill the gaps to enhance both traditional ERP’s and cloud-based solutions for the healthcare industry.
About Prodigo Solutions
Prodigo Solutions is a healthcare technology company that improves provider’s financial control and reduces supply chain cost. Prodigo Solutions’ savings technology has been developed by healthcare supply chain experts to deliver tangible results across a continuum of care. Customers who use our systems purchase more than $17 billion annually for the more than 600 hospitals they operate.
*Gartner IT Glossary, “Cloud Computing,” 20 May 2021. https://www.gartner.com/en/information-technology/glossary/cloud-computing
*Gartner IT Glossary, “Cloud Office Migration,” 20 May 2021. https://www.gartner.com/en/information-technology/glossary/cloud-office-migration
*Gartner IT Glossary, “Public Cloud Computing,” 20 May 2021. https://www.gartner.com/en/information-technology/glossary/public-cloud-computing
*Gartner IT Glossary, “Private Cloud Computing,” 20 May 2021. https://www.gartner.com/en/information-technology/glossary/private-cloud-computing
*Gartner IT Glossary, “Hybrid Cloud Computing,” 20 May 2021. https://www.gartner.com/en/information-technology/glossary/hybrid-cloud-computing
*Gartner IT Glossary, “Community Cloud,” 20 May 2021. https://www.gartner.com/en/information-technology/glossary/community-cloud
GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission