The mission of most medical institutions is to provide the best possible medical care to their patients while balancing costs. The goal of their IT departments is to empower this mission by deploying technologies that improve health care, reduce cost or both. For the data center teams, the best way to achieve this is by providing an infrastructure the reduces the friction of application owners to consume data center resources.
Most IT departments are actively collaborating with doctors and researchers to quickly deploy applications and tools to enhance their patients’ care. For example, when a patient is diagnosed with cancer, let’s say for example, lung cancer, one of the treatment options is to do chemotherapy. One of the negative side effects of chemotherapy is that in addition to attacking the cancer, it also damages other healthycells and weakens the immune system. There is an option to provide less impacting oncology care to the patient by taking images of the cancer, in this example, the lungs, and using an application to identify the center of the cancer cells. With this information, the oncologist can use a treatment, such as Proton Treatment, that will focus on the cancerous cells while reducing the negative side effects.
Is your data center infrastructure ready to support such an application? How long would it take it to be ready? 2 weeks? 2 months? 12 months? The time it takes for the application to come online and treatment to start,it is a potential reduction on the life span of the patient.
So what could be done about this to have a data center infrastructure that is not the bottleneck of IT solutions that empower the medical institution’s goals? We at Hydra 1303 have some experience answering this question. We believe that transforming your data center to use a Services Model for Infrastructure consumption provides the least amount of friction for application owners to deploy their applications. The best way known today to migrate to a Services Model is to make each of your Infrastructure silos capable of providing their services on demand.Below are some of the recommendations we offer.
Data Center Network
The data center Network should be reconfigured so most of the Network Services you offer are as closed as possible to the applications (Workloads). This can be interpreted that for virtual Workloads, Network Services should be offered in the Hypervisor or via Virtual Network Appliances. For Physical Workloads, most Network Services should be offered at the Access Switches.
We strongly recommend that independent of your Workload type, all upstream connections from the Access switches should be configured with no Layer 2.
Your storage solution should be Services-Aware. By this we mean that your storage provider should be able to provide any Storage Services on demand. The Workload needs data lost protection? The storage provider should be able to provide dynamic RAID configuration. The Workload needs better performance than the underlying disks can provide? The storage provider should be able to provide dynamic stripping configuration.
In reality, what that really means to you is, you should probably be moving away from your traditional block-levelFibre Channel based topology and deploy an Object based storage.
While we are on the topic of storage, Workloads should have a well-documented Replication Profile that can be consumed on demand. The Replication Profile should include replication frequency, replication type (full backups or partial), and retention policies.
All good security enforcements start with clear definition of what the medical center needs protecting. Do you need to protect the patients’data while being stored? What security methodology would you be using? Zero-trust?
In short, there should be an Application Security Profile for all applications, and the configuration and enforcement of Security Policies should be done automatically by the Infrastructure whenever the Workload is live.
Staff Skill Set Augmentation
We recommend that a full assessment of current skill sets within the teams be conducted. You want to know if within your data center infrastructure teamsyou are missing any of the technical skills required to operationalize a data center using the Services Model. Just as important, inquire among your team members which technology areas they would be interested in learning.
With this data, you can easily match the needed technical-skills with the staff that wants to learn those skills. Set realistic goals for the staff to ramp up on the new technology and provide them the support they need to be successful.
Your ability of providing Infrastructure services only goes as far as there are physical resources available to meet the demand. One of the most important recommendations we provide is the execution of strong capacity monitor, with triggers for procuring physical resources when any of the infrastructure capacity drops below a slack threshold. We recommend that a regular procurement process also be established that will add capacity to the infrastructure.