Gary Weiner, manager of performance improvement and interim management at Dearborn, Mich.-based ACS Healthcare Solutions, says data protection should be a vital part of the CIO's overall strategy.
According to Weiner
, the focus should be threefold: maintaining high availability, having a disaster recovery plan, and identifying how long a system can be down before it negatively impacts the environment.
"You need to determine what it will take, what it will cost, and what you need to do to ensure 100 percent reliability in case of failure," he
Of the various methods used to protect data, the one he
sees gaining serious traction in the healthcare industry is virtualization, a technology that can lower costs while improving availability, redundancy and recovery time.
"In a virtualized environment, your total cost of ownership over a three to five year period can be reduced by 40 to 60 percent," he
"So it is a tremendous opportunity to not only save money but to enhance your environment."
Another strategy is cluster servers, which can be configured so that if one fails, the applications it was hosting continue to run on one of the remaining servers.
"It's becoming more and more common," says Weiner
Simply having a data protection strategy in place, however, isn't enough, according to Weiner
, who says periodic testing should play a key role in the CIO's server reliability plan.
"Testing is critical to make sure that whatever you've deployed actually works," he
says, recommending that solutions are tested at least annually, if not on a semiannual or quarterly basis.
Though some leaders might balk at the costs involved in achieving such a high level of availability and redundancy, the investment is well worth reducing the risk associated with a potential downtime, says Weiner
"For every day that systems are down, it can decrease a hospital's cash flow and increase expenses," he