Innovating with Cloud and Big Data in Healthcare and Life Sciences

In the past year, I’ve blogged about big data and cloud computing. Increasingly, the two are converging in ways that have transformative potential for healthcare and life sciences.

From electronic health records (EHR) and PACS (picture archiving and communications system) to genome sequencing machines, healthcare and life sciences (LS) are generating digital data at unprecedented rates. Much of the effort around “big data” is concentrated on deriving value from this information. Using distributed software frameworks such as open source Hadoop*, big data techniques will give us the analytic scale and sophistication needed to transform data into clinical wisdom and innovative treatments.

Cloud computing can help healthcare/LS organizations take advantage of big data analytics and accomplish other key objectives. Whether you focus on your own data center, work with a hosting provider, adopt software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, or combine multiple approaches, cloud models provide the organizational agility to access scalable computing resources, as you need them. Cloud computing offers well-recognized cost savings, but with all the changes and opportunities facing healthcare and life sciences organizations, the agility benefits can far outweigh them.

Intel recently developed two documents that can help you advance your cloud and big data strategies.

The New CIO Agenda takes a high-level look at key issues to consider as you move toward cloud-enabled transformation. It also provides quick examples of five leading healthcare/LS organizations that are using cloud computing to create value and enhance agility.

Big Data in the Cloud: Converging Technologies goes deeper into analytics-as-a-service models and identifies practical steps to advance your cloud-based analytics initiatives.

I encourage you to download these documents and use them as you evolve your cloud and big data strategies.  I’d also like to offer three specific suggestions that can move you forward and prepare you to take full advantage of cloud and big data opportunities:

1. Develop a roadmap. Start identifying what’s critical to keep in secure, on-premises environments and what functions you can move to external infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) clouds or consume as SaaS solutions.

2. Modernize your infrastructure. Even if you use SaaS heavily, you still need standards-based virtualized infrastructure to interface with external services and adjust to fast-changing demands. If you’ve already virtualized your servers, start looking at storage virtualization, unified networking, and software-defined networks.

3. Don’t let security concerns keep you out of the cloud.  There’s plenty you can do to keep data and resources secure in the cloud. Use your move into cloud computing to take a comprehensive, holistic approach to privacy and security. Adopt policy-driven, multi-layered security controls, and use hardware-enhanced security technologies to improve security and end-user experience.  As you talk to potential cloud service providers, make sure they are able to meet the requirements derived from your organization’s privacy and security policy.

Intel is committed to enabling healthcare and LS organizations to reap the full benefits of cloud and big data analytics. We’re designing the compute, networking, storage and software capabilities to deliver high performance solutions for large-scale cloud and analytics workloads at scale. We’re collaborating with the Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA), Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), and other industry organizations to create flexible, secure frameworks for cloud computing and big data analytics. And, we’re expanding our software portfolio with solutions such as the Intel® Distribution for Apache Hadoop*, which enables standards-based distributed analytics with robust security and management capabilities.

I think some of the most exciting use cases for big data analytics and cloud computing are coming from healthcare/LS. How about you? What are you doing and seeing? How can Intel help you reach your cloud and analytics objectives?

• Download The New CIO Agenda brochure.  

• Download the Big Data in the Cloud: Converging Technologies solution brief.

• Visit this web site to see what healthcare and life science users are doing with big data analytics and Intel® technologies.

• Follow me @CGoughPDX  on Twitter.