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Health Care Providers Shifting to the Cloud

I've been having extensive industry and channel discussions during the past month, and it's become apparent to me that an increasing number of health care providers are moving their data to the cloud. With the unstoppable growth of medical imagery, many health care providers are realizing that trying to do a data migration to a new storage system every few years is becoming next to impossible. Some providers I spoke with said unless they shift to the cloud, they'll never be able to even fathom catching up with their data growth because they'll be stuck in a never-ending cycle of rebuying their next storage system and migrating data.

As one health care provider put it, "How many times am I going to migrate from one storage system to the next, and then the next, etc.? I can't keep running a business like this."

Another reason health care providers are shifting to the cloud is the elimination of maintenance fees. Storage companies are known for charging upward of 20% of the total sale price for maintenance per year. On a $500,000 sale, you're talking about perhaps $100,000 per year in maintenance bills alone. OK, granted, warranty periods provide for maintenance. However, one does pay for this upfront in the purchase price, and the warranty period expiration comes around quickly. A three-year warranty purchased in July 2008 would now be nearly complete. I don't know about you, but three years has gone by pretty quickly for me. Factor in power, cooling and the extended costs of IT personnel to manage that onsite storage, and you can see why this sector is finding the cloud so attractive. Health care providers simply want to focus on the betterment of their patients--not continuously dealing with their IT infrastructure challenges.

During the course of my discussions with health care industry IT professionals, one service provider that kept coming up in conversations (more than others) was Nirvanix. Clearly, Nirvanix has been making serious inroads in this space. Apparently, during the past few months, Nirvanix has landed more than half a dozen service contracts with large- to medium-scale health care providers--none of which had been using the cloud previously. The companies I spoke with decided to make the switch from the box-buying cycle to the metered billing services available with the global cloud.

Of the cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) providers, Nirvanix's is attractive to health care buyers because its global namespace and object store were architected from the beginning to support massive unstructured files--and billions of them. In large part, I believe this is why the company has landed some serious business in Hollywood during the last year. By my estimates, nearly all the major studios are deploying a Nirvanix cloud in one form or another. The data patterns of unstructured imagery present in Hollywood films are quite similar to the large unstructured medical imagery found in hospitals and health care providers--so the adoption of unstructured file storage solutions, including the success of Nirvanix's cloud, in these environments is a very logical use case.

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