With the cloud being a hot topic across many industries, including healthcare, we’re repurposing this informative Q&A here on Industry View as we feel our healthcare audience will find it of value. What you’ll find below are answers to the most pressing questions CDW received from its social communities. In three different sessions, CDW cloud experts discussed the differences between public and private cloud, what considerations an IT decision maker should make when it comes to moving to the cloud and why it’s important to work with an expert. Read on for more!

Q. What is the cloud? What’s the difference between public and private clouds? 

Cloud is computing capability delivered via a network. It’s the practice of consuming processes and applications outside data center walls. A public cloud refers to an “as-a-service” model that hosts isolated resources in a shared, multi-tenancy environment. A private cloud refers to an “as-a-service” model where the customer is the only tenant in the cloud environment. There’s no sharing of resources within a private environment.
Source: Spiceworks video — On the Air with CDW and VMware
– What is a cloud? (5:20)
– Difference between public and private (7:26)

Q. What are the advantages and disadvantages of public and private clouds? 

There are advantages to both public and private cloud environments. Public clouds allow for on-demand scalability and increased flexibility. Public clouds drive down costs, allowing customers to pay for what they use, and they’re also ideal for testing and development needs. Private cloud environments offer increased security, control and privacy, and are ideal for companies that have compliance and regulatory concerns. They also can make use of existing technology investments.
Source: Spiceworks video — On the Air with CDW and VMware
– Security and control (8:40 and 9:40)

Q. What is a hybrid cloud? What are the advantages? 

The hybrid cloud is a combination of public and private clouds. When looking to move to a cloud environment, many companies need to find ways to leverage their existing investments, and hybrid clouds enable them to utilize their private environments (either on-premises or in a data center) while enjoying the flexibility that comes with a public cloud model.
Source: Spiceworks video — On the Air with CDW and VMware
– Leverage existing investments (11:50)

Q. What are the benefits of cloud over an on-premises environment? 

One of the main benefits is that you only pay for what you use, which is great if you require quick scalability. With an on-premises environment, you’re responsible for buying capacity to deal with potential spikes — or risking running out of bandwidth to handle changes in traffic. Additionally, in a cloud environment, you’re always using the latest technologies and can ensure your technology is up to date.

Cloud environments make it much easier for application developers to create and test applications on a platform that’s flexible but also separate from other computing resources. In addition, the HIPAA security final rule states that all entities must have a standard documented contingency plan including data backup and disaster recovery. Cloud and hosted solutions can deliver solutions that meet those HIPAA requirements.
Source: Spiceworks video — On the Air with CDW and VMware
– You get the best technology at all times (17:29)
– Scalable, pay for what you use, deploy applications (8:45)

Q. How much experience do I need to move to the cloud? 

You can make your transition to cloud as easy or complicated as you want. To run many applications, you need little or no experience, and you can transition to the cloud without requiring additional training. With other applications and processes, more knowledge and training is required to ensure that things are properly integrated and secure.
Source: Spiceworks video — On the Air with CDW and VMware(18:20)
Source: Spiceworks video — Which workloads can you move into a private or public cloud?(33:33)

Q. How big or small should a company be to consider cloud? 

One person is all you need to get started, but it completely depends on your company’s needs. Many startups are being born in the cloud, but companies of all sizes are taking advantage of the benefits of various cloud environments. Some questions that should be considered are: do we have the resources to manage an on-premises environment and what existing infrastructure do we need to take into consideration? Available resources and existing investments will help to determine whether the cloud is right for your organization—regardless of your size.
Source: Spiceworks video — On the Air with CDW and VMware(15:30)
Source: Spiceworks video — Which workloads can you move into a private or public cloud?(32:25)

Q. Would a public cloud be preferable to a private cloud for a small organization?

Regardless of the size of your business, the answer to this question is completely dependent upon your organizational/IT needs, what applications are being used and what your back-end tech requirements are. With smaller companies it’s sometimes beneficial to offload workloads like hosted or cloud-based email, security software, file sharing, storage and backup, and collaboration to conserve resources and enable employees to focus on growing the business. Assessments, planning and consulting an expert can all help determine which environment is best.
Source: Spiceworks video — On the Air with CDW and VMware(26:55)
Source: Spiceworks video — Which workloads can you move into a private or public cloud?(32:50)

Q. What are some things to consider when creating a cloud plan? 

The first thing you need to consider is what your existing inventory and applications look like and whether they would work well within a cloud environment. You also should evaluate your lifecycle management to see what technology needs to be replaced and could be integrated into a cloud plan. Additionally, you need to consider cost and determine whether a CapEx or OpEx model works best for your organization.
Source: Spiceworks video — On the Air with CDW and VMware(23:35)
Source: Spiceworks video — Which workloads can you move into a private or public cloud?(22:09)

Q. How do you forecast for cloud demand? 

There are a couple of general things to consider when trying to predict and plan for your cloud demand. First, look at historical trends and traffic from your organization’s recent past to see if there are patterns. Also, will you need additional capacity for testing and development in the near future? Secondly, take into consideration the industry you’re in — are there fluctuations for peak sales periods throughout the year? And finally, you need to consider how a cloud environment could affect your current tech investments.
Source: Spiceworks video — Which workloads can you move into a private or public cloud?(7:51)

Q. If I’m moving to the cloud, what network bandwidth considerations should I make? 

The amount of required bandwidth will depend on the service. Some cloud applications that move lots of information from an on-premises environment to the cloud and back require more bandwidth. Other cloud processes such as hosted VDI or desktop-as-a-service require less bandwidth because everything is being delivered from a separate data center and a provider is managing the environment. A cloud provider will be able to help you determine your bandwidth needs.
Source: Spiceworks video — On the Air with CDW and VMware(51:00)
Source: Spiceworks video — Which workloads can you move into a private or public cloud?(28:36)

Q. Should I build my own cloud environment or rely on a service provider to construct one for me? 

There are benefits to both options, but if you want to build a cloud environment, you need to collect and secure all of the parts through various vendors, find a certified technician, obtain proper documentation, and test quality — all on the organization’s time. Once up and running, you need to be able support the environments and applications and handle any issues. In many cases, it makes more sense in terms of saving time, money and frustration to rely on a service provider to help with all the required steps.
Source: Spiceworks video — Which workloads can you move into a private or public cloud?(35:11)

Q. During a power outage or emergency, how can I be sure my data is safe and still accessible? 

Cloud providers can help you build out a disaster recovery and backup plan that ensures geographic redundancy. In the event of an emergency or outage, your employees can still gain access to vital company info stored in the cloud from a remote location. Additionally, many cloud providers will also offer multiple power grids and multiple connectivity sources to ensure that your employees are able to connect to your cloud resources.
Source: Spiceworks video — On the Air with CDW and VMware(20:45)
Source: Spiceworks video — Which workloads can you move into a private or public cloud?(44:28)

Q. With cloud providers, can I decide where my data resides to limit lag time? 

Yes. With specific providers, you have the option of selecting which data center your data resides in to account for any regional/geographical concerns. Most service and cloud providers also offer direct-connect service, which means that a broker (such as CDW) will pair a handful of network carrier providers with cloud providers and will allow a customer to choose a combination based on benefits and cost. This teaming up of network and cloud providers enables high performance through a direct private connection into a data center.
Source: Spiceworks video — Which workloads can you move into a private or public cloud?(47:07)

Q. What legal considerations should I make when considering moving to a cloud environment? 

Whether you’re a small or large organization, you should always consult an expert when it comes to the cloud and legal considerations. From learning more about SLAs and how availability and performance can differ between providers who promise the same uptime to how encryption and security services will help protect your data in transit and at rest, companies should work with a trusted advisor to help them make the most appropriate decisions. It is crucial for those seeking to put PHI-sensitive environments in the cloud to look for a HIPAA-compliant or audited provider. This means that those cloud providers conduct an independent audit against the latest Office of Civil Rights HIPAA audit protocol. In addition, you should also look for cloud providers that will execute business associate agreements (BAAs), keeping in mind that not all BAAs are created equal.
Source: Spiceworks video — Which workloads can you move into a private or public cloud?(42:24)

To learn more CDW Healthcare’s consulting and collaboration offerings.

Originally posted on CDW’s Cloud Solutions Page.

 

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