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Virtualization is the way of the future? It is now.

Posted Feb 18 2011 11:54am

When you spend as much time in an airport as I do, you will appreciate it when I say that you meet all kinds of interesting people when you are playing hurry-up-and-wait.  More and more, I spend my time chatting to those around me. Sometimes I learn something and sometimes I teach something - like recently while sitting on the tarmac, I struck up a conversation with my seatmate, who like me traveled in a suit with a single carry-on suitcase and a laptop bag easily accessible once the seat belt light is turned off.

After dispensing with the pleasantries, I was pleased to discover we were in remarkably similar fields - and with a wide range of topics to chat about, we settled into an interesting conversation about virtualization.  The chat began to derail a bit when he said, “I read an article recently that said virtualization is the way of the future”.  I had to admit (and I told him so), I was a bit surprised - the future?  Do you mean….it’s not here and now?

I was recently involved in a CIO Summit where we surveyed the attendees and found that all of them had a virtualization strategy; granted it was predominantly servers and desktops but still, we have moved beyond the early adoption stage and have moved into the mainstream. So either my flight mate was quoting an article from the year 2001 or maybe he was talking about the second round of virtualization - storage - to be exact.

A hospital typically buys storage at a departmental level, driven by the departmental application needs. In a growing number of scenarios, there exists an enterprise storage strategy from the perspective of virtualization where all of these different departments can be virtualized to reduce the amount of administration required, save money from the storage acquisition perspective and optimize the existing systems. Today, Hitachi is working with health provider organizations to show the ROI possible through an innovative Storage Economics offering that can estimate the savings available!

We then started talking about how virtualizing storage was NOT the last frontier for virtualization. This got him completely confused. Virtualizing storage is great and has significant benefits to the IT department and C-Suite, but what about virtualizing the information that all of these silos generate? This degenerated into discussions around vendor neutral archives and as this is my background I may have caused his eyes to glaze over (although it could have been the drink). We soon got beyond radiology and discussed how to create an Electronic Health Record infrastructure that would transcend beyond the silos we find today and enable physicians to see the complete medical record of their patient.

This is the future aspect of virtualization. In reading a report on Canadian healthcare, the author identified that 33% of facilities had trouble sharing data between different departments. This has a significant clinical impact on physicians and patients. Getting access to data is critical to good decision making and it can contribute to cost savings in the long run. My seatmate started to see where I was going with this. Just because a doctor has a computer doesn’t mean he has access to your information. Scary thought!

It’s on flights like this that time passes quickly; I only hope my new friend feels the same way.

Don’t forget - Hitachi Data Systems will be at HIMSS11 in Orlando, Florida February 20-24 in Booth #6742, where you can see - first hand - Hitachi virtualization solutions and Hitachi’s capabilities around managing metadata from disparate information silos across a healthcare facility.

It should be an exciting show and we are looking forward to it - see you in Orlando!

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