Driving pharma to the cloud is value-driven and geared to patients who take active roles in their healthcare. Specifically, those who want information at their fingertips. Instead, of waiting for it to trickle down through the maze of doctors, tests, and procedures.

It's also driven by constantly changing health care regulations, finances, digital initiation, integration, and individual companies that want more efficient ways to manage their patient data.

Will public clouds be too risky? Will private clouds be safe? What about a hybrid of the two?

While you're analyzing the risks and benefits that the cloud might bring to your organization, consider the network availability. Performance and security are key players in those driving forces that help enterprises choose a cloud infrastructure.

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Public, Private or Hybrid Cloud?

It's an unprecedented era of digital trust. Consumer expectations run high, and regulatory expectations run higher. Consumers demand privacy, yet data is even more essential.

Companies are becoming more liable for how that data is handled. Data streams up and down the cloud, worldwide, nearly instantaneously, and 24/7.

How your company chooses to manage it, is part of the risk/benefit analysis process that needs to be tested before choosing the cloud that best fits your company. 

Here is a quick rundown on the types of clouds:

Public clouds are third-party run clouds. You have no maintenance, you can bolt them on and run them. They provide scalable, on-demand, and a cost-efficient service.

IoT devices like wearable fitness watches, are frequently used in public clouds.

Private clouds are run by an individual company, are customizable, scalable and more secure than public clouds. It isn't as cost-efficient as a public cloud. Your IT team needs to maintain it.

Hybrid clouds are a mix of public and private clouds. They offer a company public cloud convenience with private cloud security.

In essence, you use the public cloud for high volume and lower security data. Then, you migrate to the private cloud when you need to use it for higher security. 

Hybrid CloudHybrids like Microsoft's Azure seek blurring the line between public and private clouds instead of keeping them disparate. Ensuring they're only coming together as needed.

Clouds make companies more functional, cost-effective and efficient, with:

  • Immediately accessible data from anywhere in the world.
  • Flexible analytics that allows for analyzing trends, consumer data, and follow-ups.
  • Cost efficiency due to third-party handling, ease of information exchange, performance and security.
  • Higher productivity includes day-to-day operations as well as collaborative processes.
  • Disaster recovery after breaches, weather, and other natural or man-made disasters.

That's a brief primer about clouds, it's far from all-inclusive. If you're in the healthcare industry, there are company specifics to deal with. Including, HIPAA regulations, an immediacy of medical data, and the device-driven Internet of Things (IoT).

Each industry pharma must decide where the company stands regarding skill sets, cloud knowledge, and its own logistical complexities regarding migration.

According to Scientific Computing, pharma still lags behind utilizing the cloud regarding research and development and needs to be shown the way to facilitate innovative cloud usage.

Network Availability and Performance

If your enterprise is down, you're losing money, productivity and trust. In healthcare, lives are dependent on network availability. So the more 9's you see in your up-time, the better.

For instance, if you have 99.999 percent up-time per year, your max downtime over the course of the entire year is 5 minutes and 15 seconds. You can see that every second down to the fraction counts.

Only military systems are "up" more than healthcare networks.

Clouds increase both up-time and connectivity. Sure, your network is up-and-running, but are you connecting with the players of the day?

For example, when pharma engages in cloud computing, end-user productivity and performance stabilizes since you can connect to the cloud worldwide 24/7.

For pharmaceutical reps, sales depend on connecting with clients. Hospitals and other healthcare companies depend on getting their pharmaceuticals in a timely framework. This brings up the issue of data latency.

If your data isn't getting to where it needs to go fast enough, is it secure?

Network Security

Security has been the main concern for many just getting familiar with cloud networks, especially with all the cybercrime and breaches. The industry-patient relationship relies on the end-to-end security of personal data.

How does this data remain secure when it's flowing up and down the cloud? Does cloud security only depend on how securely a company utilizes their cloud or is it simply secured by the cloud itself? These are imperative and fair questions that anybody in pharma considering a cloud infrastructure must ask.

Network SecuritySome security challenges besides cybercrime and breaches that are cloud-specific include latency issues, wrong choice of cloud, mobile devices, and the IoT. As well as human user error and the day-to-day security issues that in-house IT may not be privy to handling. This, due to lack of knowledge in keeping cloud data managed and secure.

One of the latest attacks involves a chip kernel vulnerability on a CPU processor. It serves to remind every industry that security issues must be forefront and enterprises must mitigate such risk immediately.

For example, the Henry Ford data breach in early December 2017 and its power outage in January 2018 rushed to rectify in hours, not days. The hospital had to manually intake data until the power was restored. Once it did, the hospital's data flowed once again.

The Cloud is the Great Facilitator

By 2020, most of the healthcare industry,  will be harnessing either a public, a private or a hybrid cloud. Management parameters, research and development will change. Health data must be available, private and synchronized for use at a moment's notice.

The cloud manages data flow and the modernization of legacy systems. For pharma, ushers in an era where the patient becomes the consumer.

Migrating to the cloud is more than strategic and transformative, it's vital sign of good business health.