This content is part of the Essential Guide: Healthcare data storage options

Storage advice for healthcare CIOs: Tech to support a storage plan

One CIO discusses how his healthcare organization chose a storage vendor and developed a storage plan, and offers advice to healthcare CIOs about how they can do the same.

The use of an effective and efficient storage technology is a must for healthcare CIOs because it can not only help provide information faster to those within the hospital who need it, but storage also plays a role in the security of the overall healthcare organization, for example, when it comes to disaster recovery. But choosing the most effective storage technology can be tough because a wide variety of storage technologies are available, ranging from flash array to cloud.

In this Q&A, John Ward, CIO at Trihealth, a health system based in Cincinnati, offers some storage advice and discusses what healthcare CIOs should be thinking about and looking for when they're shopping for storage technologies.

What storage advice do you have for healthcare CIOs in terms of the characteristics they should be looking for in a robust storage technology?

John Ward: First off, things are moving away from spinning disk, and they're going to flash. So you've got to look at, maybe, what are those newer technologies that you're going to need to rely on, and do they have those newer technologies to address your needs?

John Ward, CIO at TrihealthJohn Ward

You've got to look at performance, you've got to look at capacity, you've got to look at security, you've got to look at compression, you've got to look at all of those different things. You've got to look at cost and licensing, you need to look at footprint. We are heavily focused on using less power, less cooling, etc. in our data centers. ... All that comes into play when you're looking for a storage solution.

But you first [have] to know, what is the problem you're trying to solve? Are you just trying to archive data and maybe put a large amount of data on a solution that is not going to be regularly accessed, but you've got to maintain?

Or is this something that you need to get to quickly, and you need to have all that necessary level of security and speed, performance as I was just talking about? And if that's the [problem] you need to solve, then you really need to look at what do vendors ... bring to the table in comparison to some of the big box vendors that are out there that are doing enterprise class storage.

What advice do you have for healthcare CIOs wanting to create a robust storage plan?

Ward: You need to first and foremost make sure you've got a good partner to work with [to create a storage plan]. We worked with a partner that had a good understanding of storage solutions, but they were not married to any one vendor, so they were really agnostic when it comes to providing thought and leadership as it relates to helping us determine what was the right solution for us.

They helped us kind of do a bake off to compare the storage solutions that are out there, the more traditional enterprise class storage vendors against what Pure Storage could bring to the table, and allowing us to take a look at that.

What I would recommend to other CIOs is do that due diligence. ... I came from the days of mainframes, and back in those days, people used to say, "You don't get fired for going with Blue." They were talking about IBM at the time, and people will pick these enterprise-class big vendors that have been in place for years and years and years thinking that that solution is more stable or more capable, and if you want to trust your enterprise on it, you want to go with something like that.

I would argue that, that's changing. Cloud is making a big difference, and players like Pure [Storage] are making a big difference, and you need to make sure you've got a good partner that gives you all of the thoughts and understanding of the space and where these organizations are going. And you've got to be willing to put one up against the other and see what's right for you ... or the problem you're trying to solve. And we did that. We really put [Pure Storage] up against these other vendors, and it works. ...

So don't be afraid to look at some of these up and comers ... and [say], "All right, do they bring a solution to the table that's going to address your needs, provide a level of stability that you need, the level of security you need, the speed you need at a better price?"

Because with healthcare we've got to constantly look at how [to] become more efficient, so that ... we can [provide care] at a cheaper price, so that we can deliver quality at a higher value to our patients and our customers.

Let us know what you think about the story and whether you have any storage advice for healthcare CIOs; email Kristen Lee, news writer, or find her on Twitter @Kristen_Lee_34.

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