A recent review initiated by GoldCare in September 2017 revealed that over half of customers continue to maintain an in-house GoldCare server. With a developing health-industry trend to outsource Information Technology (IT) to reduce costs and focus on core business, this article is GoldCare’s position paper on one element of this trend: cloud-based hosting. We define what cloud-based hosting is (herein simply called hosting), what this term means in relation to our service offerings, the general state of the market, and our view based on experience in the healthcare software sector of both hosted and non-hosted offerings.
What is Hosting?
There are presently three terms used to describe current models of outsourcing software applications. These are hosting, co-location and software-as-a-service (SaaS). We provide a short definition of each term to provide greater clarity on the meaning of hosting.
Hosting: Licensed software is installed at a Data Center on a server operated and maintained by the software vendor or another party. Typically, each customer is assigned their own server with their own version of the software. Each customer can receive upgrades separately.
Co-Location: Space is leased in a Data Center to house servers. You install and maintain all software on these servers from operating system to application.
SaaS: Web-based applications typically with a monthly subscription fee. One application is shared between customers and separate databases assigned to each customer. Application security partitions further separate them. With a single copy of the application, all customers receive upgrades at the same time.
In comparing the above three models, hosting provides the benefit of a dedicated software environment for your business (unlike SaaS) and external expertise to source and maintain the required equipment (unlike co-location).
Four Benefits of Hosting
There are many benefits to be realized by employing a hosted application. Initially, people consider outsourcing IT as a means to achieve cost savings. We will begin with identifying the key costs that contracting for a hosted solution can eliminate depending on the terms of the contract. These are simply a guideline and it’s important to review your agreement to determine which of the following benefits can be realized.
Server, supporting hardware and storage: A hosted solution eliminates the need to purchase, expand or replace equipment as it ages or as your business grows. With a hosted solution, there are also no hardware maintenance contracts to negotiate and maintain.
Premises cost: A hosted solution frees up valuable office space required by a computer room, and requires no additional HVAC, power, power conditioning, backup power, security considerations.
Other software costs: A hosted solution eliminates potential additional software costs including but not limited to server-operating system, backups, anti-virus, firewall, security certificates, and system monitoring.
- Labour costs: Choosing a hosted solution can greatly reduce some often-overlooked costs such as the initial investigation and ongoing review of hardware requirements, ongoing maintenance and updates to support server applications (i.e. OS patches), costs to have on-call staff to respond to faults after hours, Monitoring and acting on IT trends/threats (i.e. anti-virus, ransom ware), Maintenance contract negotiation, certifications, audits, etc.
For each of the above, there is the potential for unknown costs through the course of a year. A hosting agreement is typically comprehensive and provides a fixed annual cost that simplifies budgeting. An exception to this would be a change to your business that increases or decreases the hosted capacity required.
In addition to the benefits noted above, by partnering with an organization that specializes in providing a hosting service you can focus on your core business instead of worrying about IT. The hosting provider maintains the hardware and manages any faults. In addition, the equipment, policies and procedures employed by a hosting partner are typically to a higher standard. In the event of an incident, recovery will be much quicker allowing your staff to get back to work faster.
About GoldCare Hosting
GoldCare started hosting customer systems at a data center located in Waterloo, Ontario in 2006. We chose this location to comply with Canadian legislation regarding privacy and security important to our customers (HIPAA, PIPEDA). GoldCare has always maintained the hardware and equipment used in this data center so there is absolute certainty where our customer data is held.
Our standard hosting solution offers the following:
- Secure Tier 3 Data Fortress with 24 x 365 monitoring including CCTV
- Full backup power conditioning
- Redundant connectivity
- Climate control and advanced fire suppression
- Data security using advanced Firewall
- Server administration (operating system updates)
- Secure connectivity certificate sourcing
- Hardware and system monitoring for issues/performance
- Daily data backup and encrypted off-site storage
- Full Service Level Agreement with 99.7% uptime guarantee
- Database and server configuration for best performance of GoldCare
By hosting with GoldCare, you can realize a secure, cloud-based system that supports your business and provides greater access to information by your workforce.
In addition to hosting, GoldCare also offers a Premium System Maintenance package that will reduce your IT maintenance even further. This service takes much of the application maintenance performed by a GoldCare System Administrator in your organization and has it performed by GoldCare staff. This ensures your system is performing optimally and further frees up your staff for other duties. For additional details, visit the GoldCare website and review “Premium Maintenance Offer” under the “Services” section.
In healthcare today, more so than in recent years, we are witnessing ever increasing competition among service providers who are operating with tighter budgets and subjected to ever more demanding technological changes. Where historically an internal system was adequate, the increasing demand for anytime access to information has also meant these organizations have to consider making information available externally to their workforce. With this consideration and the benefits identified above in cost and labour savings, to paraphrase a customer at a GoldCare conference held in October 2017, “Why would you not go hosted?”
For more information on GoldCare’s hosted solution contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.