By reading this blog, you are acknowledging that cloud has become a core tenant of our lives. At Thermo Fisher Scientific, we emphatically believe that organizations need to embrace digital technologies to survive in today’s rapidly changing environment. This is especially true for life sciences and healthcare organizations due to the tremendous value they deliver to society.
Unfortunately, companies in the life sciences and healthcare industries continue to lag in terms of digital maturity as compared to other industries. A recent Deloitte Digital Transformation Executive Survey found that almost 90 percent of life science/healthcare executives consider their company to be either low or median maturity. While digital transformation can mean many things, a core tenant of this mindset is in exploring the possibilities made available through incorporating a cloud strategy into your company.
This is the first in a series of blogs designed to help life sciences and healthcare companies accelerate their digital maturity through cloud. My goal is to help you understand the value of adopting cloud technologies by demystifying some of the terminology we often hear. Future blogs will examine how a typical cloud adoption lifecycle may look for a life sciences/healthcare company, and use cases showing how cloud adoption can drive innovation in your industry.
BIG 3 Cloud Values
If you’ve seen any cloud presentation, then you’ll no doubt have seen some mention of what I call the “BIG 3 Cloud values:”
- Reduced IT Costs
The first is the reduction of IT costs, usually attained by shifting from a CapEx strategy to OpEx in terms of IT infrastructure. As businesses grow or evolve, managing IT infrastructure can become very complex and costly. You need to purchase enough hardware to meet your requirements, build out facilities equipped to house and run that hardware, establish networks and hire enough IT expertise to implement and run the whole thing.
Another way in which cloud reduces cost is through scalability. With cloud, you buy only the infrastructure you need when you need it. Whether scaling out to handle an expanding business, or scaling up to accommodate more complex data requirements, the cloud enables you to dynamically adapt to your specific needs without the added complexity of growing, maintaining or updating hardware.
Finally, I want to call out that cloud adoption is not one-size-fits-all. There is great flexibility in how any company chooses to progress in their digital journey, whether they are connecting directly to the cloud, across multiple clouds, or simply by taking advantage of the myriad services being made available by cloud providers and partners, such as laboratory integrations, data analysis, or business intelligence.
Explaining Cloud Deployment Strategies
Let’s transition to cloud deployments models. First is the private cloud model. The private cloud or “on-prem” model has existed since the days of the mainframe, but still plays a crucial role for many companies.
Then came the public cloud providers, such as AWS, Microsoft, and Google. Often when we describe or interact with the cloud, we by default consider a multi-tenant service. This where multiple different companies and individuals share the same hardware. This is by far the most cost effective cloud model, but also has limitations in terms of customization and, most importantly, compliance.
This leads to the next iteration in services offered by public cloud providers – the virtual private cloud. This is often referred to as single-tenant, because it is no longer shared. The hardware and network is both physically and logically separated from other hardware. This allows much more control by the individual to customize their environment as well as impose strict security policies to meet compliance needs.
However, as I mentioned earlier, cloud is nothing if not flexible. More and more companies are deploying a hybrid strategy where they maintain some workloads within their on-prem environment as well as some within a public or virtual private cloud. This is usually the case when needing to rapidly expand capacity in response to surges in operations (often called burst capacity or strategy), providing a means for disaster recovery, or simply transferring less critical workloads to a more cost-effective infrastructure.
It’s important to know that companies are not limited to a single public cloud provider. More and more, companies are leveraging different providers for different services and integrating them all within a vast multi-cloud strategy.
These strategies are also taking place on global scale for the largest of organizations. Looking at the AWS map of Regions and Availability Zones, AWS provides the flexibility to retain all data within a zone to meet compliance requirements, or to integrate across zones to meet the needs of their global offices.
Understanding Cloud Service Types
To wrap up this Demystifying Cloud blog, I’d like to review a few common cloud service types. We’ve probably all heard the terms IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. For purposes of this blog, they can be distinguished in terms of access and control by the end customer. The graphic below shows the most common cloud service types.
Bare metal is typically not discussed, but I call it out because it is most closely aligned to legacy on-prem environments, where a customer has a catalog of components (servers, routers, gateways etc.) and must determine how they want them configured. This requires significant expertise. One step over is IaaS, where cloud service providers typically bundle pre-tested hardware configurations based on a customer user case. This typically includes abstraction software such as hypervisors. PaaS takes it one step further and pre-loads operating systems and some additional middleware. In other words, a platform ready to receive any application or applications needed by the customer.
Managed SaaS (MSaaS) is similar but very distinct from “true” SaaS and is typically the cloud option for regulated customers that require validation testing for their software (such customers in GxP environments). In this case, the customer needs to maintain high levels of control over their configurations as well as strict security policies that logically separate and encrypt data. This just isn’t feasible with most “true” SaaS environments, which are typically multi-tenant and targeted to less critical workloads.
If your organization is thinking about cloud, register for our Leveraging Cloud: The Benefits of adopting cloud-based solutions webinar to learn more. And don’t forget to check back to the Connected Lab blog site for the next blog in our cloud series.