Putting Down Roots: The Importance of Infrastructure

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Charlie Batutis By Charlie Batutis 
Connectivity and Technology Product Manager, Change Healthcare
Importance of Software Infrastructure

It’s nowhere near springtime, but when talking about infrastructure, I can’t help thinking about gardening. With flowers, everything exciting happens above the ground. But as anyone with a garden (or flower pot) knows, the beauty of a flower or plant can’t occur without a strong root system.

The same holds true with any type of software implementation: it’s only as good as the hardware it runs on. Your IT staff must set aside enough time for a thorough examination of your current infrastructure and the new requirements before beginning any type of software implementation.

Sturdy Hardware Base Required for Virtual Networks

The advent of virtualization for storing and exchanging data has been accompanied by a new generation of servers that contains vast memory, multiple network interface cards and solid-state storage support. Accommodating expanded server capability requires a sturdy hardware resources infrastructure. Without it, transmission bottlenecks can immobilize a data center, and an unwieldy, dispersed mass of virtual machines can create big networking problems that make it tough for administrators to monitor networked devices and avoid network gridlock. That’s why a new infrastructure that’s built for tomorrow’s healthcare data exchanges today is highly recommended.

How much memory a server has is a prime concern when selecting hardware for a virtual data exchange environment, since the size of a server-hosted virtual machine population often depends on the amount of available memory. Central processing units (CPUs) are a top-of-mind factor that influences the choice of server, with the number of cores being a more important consideration than core speed in almost every case.

Having the best hardware for a virtual network also depends upon having the best storage technology and staying current on the frequent changes in the technology. The best storage solution is going to be shared, not local, storage. Absent shared storage, every server is siloed and, therefore, can’t keep virtual machines from going offline if a physical server fails. Neither can the virtual servers use the advanced hyper-visor features that enhance availability. Oh, and the bigger the virtualized infrastructure gets, the harder it is to expand it without shared storage.

Your data exchange networks are only as good as your data is secure, and the growing number and sophistication of data threats requires a hardware-enabled security foundation. The technologies in such a solution would include:

  • High-performance, low-power, robust encryption solid state drives
  • High-performance encryption of protected health information (PHI) at all times
  • Reliable, two-factor identity authentication
  • Protection against PHI loss or theft of client
  • Data confidentiality and security safeguards in a virtualized cloud environment

Heed Vendor Computing Recommendations

I also recommend taking the network and hardware suggestions seriously when installing or upgrading software. The vendor has spent considerable time determining the configurations that will give your organization optimal performance. There might well be great reasons for your organizations to alter certain parameters, but use the preset configurations as your starting point.

Finally, when you perform any type of system upgrade or installation, you should evaluate the need to archive data. It’s important to move any old data you want to keep before loading the new system.

Clearly, the idea is to create a reliable, stable technology environment before attempting any major upgrade. Similar to preparing the soil so that plants can root properly, this environment will allow successful activation and adoption of all the functionality in the new system.

For organizations implementing home health software, Change Healthcare offers expert technical home health consulting and implementation services to help you be successful during installation phase.

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