Over the next decade, many health IT systems are going to take advantage of 'Cloud Computing' technology. Just as many of health IT systems are now incorporating open source software into their architecture, 'open' cloud computing solutions will begin to be adopted. This will be especially true of those health care organizations pursuing and/or implementing an application service provider (ASP) type solution.
What is Cloud Computing? Think of millions of computers in a giant mesh all linked and working together via the Internet to provide a wide variety of services. Cloud computing also brings to mind having an Internet site host your data and the programs you use, instead of keeping them on your personal or office computer system. The definition of cloud computing continues to evolve even as we speak.
Some of the 'open' Cloud Computing' products that are candidates for use in enabling access to electronic health record (EHR) or personal health record (PHR) systems from anywhere in the world via the Internet include the following:
· Eucalyptus - An open source cloud computing product that supports the industry standard (i.e. AWS) API and all major virtualization platforms.
· OpenNebula - An open-source project aimed at building the industry standard open source cloud computing tool to manage the complexity and heterogeneity of distributed data center infrastructures.
· Hadoop – An Apache licensed solution that provides a framework that allows for the distributed processing of large data sets across clusters of computers using a simple programming model.
· CloudStack - A next generation open source cloud computing solutions that enable simple and cost effective deployment, management, and configuration of cloud computing environments.
· OpenStack - Allows any organization to create and offer cloud computing capabilities using open source software running on standard hardware.
· openQRM - A very comprehensive and flexible open source infrastructure management solution. Think of it as a tool for managing public clouds.
· Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud – This cloud computing tool is now included with Ubuntu Server Edition.
Research indicates that within the next few years about 90% of cloud computing will be powered by open source solutions. Many health care organizations initially come to open source for cost reasons, but then become impressed with the quality, reliability, interoperability, and the flexibility of open source solutions.
Again, key areas within health care where we’re going to see cloud computing technology come heavily into play is with electronic health record (EHR) and personal health record (PHR) systems. Open source cloud computing will make the adoption of EHR systems more affordable for smaller organizations.
London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospitals plan to begin storing all patient data in the cloud. The effort, known as E-Health Cloud, is a U.K. National Health Service pilot test.
Tell us about any successful projects you know of where open source 'Cloud Computing' technology has been used in a health care setting.