Cloud Pros and Cons: Complete Cloud Comparison

NetgainCloud Computing, Healthcare IT

Cloud computing is a concept with which healthcare organizations are increasingly aware. However, with constant changes and proliferation of cloud-based software models, it can be difficult to understand the variations available. In Which Cloud is Right for Your Organization: Private vs. Public Cloud, we discussed private and public clouds. While these two are the more common clouds, there are other cloud computing options becoming more prevalent among healthcare providers because of their increased flexibility.

Here’s a quick guide of four different cloud options: Private, Public, Hybrid, and Multi-Cloud. Let’s start off by giving an explanation of each before jumping into comparing them.

Public and Private Cloud Refresher
Public cloud refers to the large-scale, shared-space implementation of a software system. Private cloud uses some of the same large-scale resources and economies, but is sized to an individual organization’s needs in a dedicated environment to meet performance needs and government or industry regulations.

What is a Hybrid Cloud?
Hybrid cloud refers to when an organization uses both private and public clouds, most often working with one provider to integrate both clouds into a tailored solution. For a healthcare organization, this may mean hosting applications that require greater availability and security, such as your EHR, in a private cloud while using the public cloud to host workloads that require less control, like email or Microsoft Office.

What is a Multi-Cloud?
Multi-cloud is a model in which an organization uses cloud assets spread among multiple providers. An organization could be hosting its EHR application with the software provider, use another provider for desktop hosting and yet another for public email hosting. Multi-cloud is expected to become the dominant model because it addresses a larger share of IT burden than the other, more “point-solution” models.

With more options now available to host applications and data, healthcare leaders are faced with understanding each to determine the best solution for their organization. To help understand the different types of cloud options and the advantages and disadvantages of private, public, hybrid, and multi-cloud, consider this chart:

Private Public Hybrid Multi-Cloud
Flexibility High Low High Medium
Security and Control High Low-Medium Medium Medium
Control/Customizable High Low High Medium
Performance High Medium Medium Variable
Support and Response High Low High Low
Costs High Low Medium Medium
Reliability/Availability High Medium Medium Medium
Signed BAA Common Uncommon Mixed – some will offer, some will not Mixed – some will offer, some will not
Speed of Migration Low-Medium High Medium High
Scalability High High Medium High
Data Protection & Disaster Recovery High Medium Medium Medium
Compliance High Medium Medium Variable
Common Uses EHR/EMR, Practice Management, and Financial Software Email, Office, File Sharing, Remote Backup EHR mated to significant Imaging Systems/PACS Multiple systems not directly connected to each other, but offered as individual cloud solutions – EHR, PACS, Financials, Lab, etc.

Healthcare organizations have begun to recognize growing value in cloud computing, and are adopting the cloud for a larger share of IT management. Many are making the move from leveraging the cloud for business applications to now transitioning their clinical applications to the cloud.

The private cloud offers a secure and highly-available environment that organizations need for their ePHI but the hybrid and multi-clouds are viable options for applications requiring less control and security. It’s important to access your different data types and the cloud options available to create an ideal IT environment for your organization.

Netgain developed a free ebook that goes into greater detail on the four cloud computing options. It includes pros & cons of each cloud, what types of practices choose each cloud, and examples of how practices are using each cloud.

Download the ebook here.