Fast, secure and reliable – a mantra for IT success in healthcare
The biggest challenge facing business today isn’t market changes. There have always been pressures that have resulted in some companies falling behind while others thrive.
What's different is the pace of change. Today, markets pivot and change in months or weeks. Technology that propelled you forward a year ago might be an anchor holding you back today.
Paul Serrano is the Chief Evangelist for the Asia Pacific region with Nutanix. He has worked in the technology business for over four decades and was involved in the creation of many of the technologies developed in Silicon Valley during the 1970s and 1980s.
His experience in developing communication systems in the military helped form his technology mantra of creating faster, more secure and more reliable systems. Speaking to an audience of senior IT personnel from the health industry, Serrano reiterated that the systems used in that environment, like the military, were responsible for the lives of people.
"In the medical industry, there is so much innovation happening," said Serrano. "The sciences are evolving so rapidly. Centralisation is happening. Consolidation is happening. This is happening in the data centre with storage, compute and networking. They are all collapsing into a small device that's really powerful that supports all the different applications".
Serrano says the innovations in medical are working hand in hand with changes and opportunities afforded by technology. For example, the availability of 2D and 3D imaging and wearable technology gives the healthcare industry the opportunity to collect more data than ever before, bring it together and perform more complex analysis than in the past.
When comparing Australia to his observations from other parts of the world, he says local firms are more open to new technology where it can improve service delivery or reduce the cost to patients.
BEarena are the leading provider of Nutanix solutions into the healthcare sector in ANZ. Darren Ashley, Managing Director commented “Nutanix Enterprise Cloud technology is particularly relevant to healthcare organisations. The simplicity and increased availability compared to more traditional IT infrastructure ensures unparalleled time to market for new solutions and safeguards critical patient services from unplanned outages. Furthermore, upgrades can now be performed during the business day without impacting applications and services, enabling greater flexibility in overall IT delivery to the business.
There are challenges to some companies. Several members of the audience noted the impact of recent market entrant Better Caring. That company has reduced the friction and overhead of interactions between patients and carers. This is driving several of the senior managers in the room to look at ways to use technology to better compete and be prepared for other innovative market entrants.
The healthcare sector has been a major target for threat actors. Serrano says there are some basic tools that companies need to invest in such as firewalls, VPNs and end-point protection.
"What I'm seeing more of now, because of cyber attacks, is what is happening at the backend. If the bad guys get past the front door, what are they doing at the back that is attacking everything else?" asked Serrano.
This covers everything from encryption to detection systems that alert security personnel when an unauthorised lateral movement from one application to another is initiated. This ability can be built into the fabric of data centres rather than bolted on later.
Serrano said "Everything is virtual. If I have access to one application, that application is talking to many other applications. So, if I hack one application, I can hack many others without anyone knowing. The ability to know who is talking to who is something Nutanix is heavily focussed on".
Adding to his "fast, secure, reliable" mantra, Serrano told the audience that "You are only as secure as the last time you checked".
Enterprises need to invest in systems that "look at every single executable file, every image and if they change, instantaneously change them back so they don't do anything," he said. The back-end of systems, which is heavily API-driven, needs to be under tight control.
The tight integration between the different components of the data centre is exemplified by the cloud. The reason cloud providers can instantly ramp up access to compute, storage and network resources is that they are all under software control. But that capability is not solely available to large service providers.
Serrano said companies such as Nutanix provide that ability, using commodity hardware, through their platform. Often tagged with the buzzword hyper-convergence, this platform treats compute, storage and network capacity as pools of resources that can be allocated via software on your own premises.
Many of the event attendees from the healthcare industry noted they still had a strong reliance on legacy applications and infrastructure. So, while Serrano said he has observed a great openness to considering cloud and hyper-converged infrastructure, there were still some challenges in moving to adoption.
"The barriers are solidifying what you already have before going to the cloud. How they do this cost effectively and quickly while benefitting the customer is a challenge. They have to get their house in order."