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Cloud Computing in Healthcare with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

Digital transformation has had a massive impact on the healthcare industry. Cloud computing and big data analytics are changing how patient data is managed, helping healthcare providers make the best treatment decisions, reducing operational costs, and much more.

This blog explores the unique challenges and benefits of cloud computing in healthcare, including nine success stories of healthcare IT companies that leverage the cloud with the help of NetApp’s Cloud Volumes ONTAP.

Jump down to the healthcare companies case studies here.

Cloud Benefits for the Healthcare Industry

The cloud offers many benefits to a broad range of healthcare stakeholders by virtue of its elastic and virtually unlimited scalability, the high availability and accessibility of data, and the desirable IT budgetary shift from capital to operating expenditures. Initial concerns regarding data privacy and security have given way to accelerated cloud adoption. The expanded need for remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic has also contributed to the need for public cloud infrastructure.

Cloud computing helps in reducing operational costs and supports data-heavy technologies for electronic medical records, patient portals, mobile apps, and medical devices. The cloud has also changed the face of medical research, with enhanced data collaboration and clinical trial management.

Cloud Requirements in Healthcare

As a highly regulated sector that handles extremely sensitive data, these are the key healthcare requirements of the cloud:

  • High data availability, and robust backup and disaster recovery (DR) capabilities, supporting minimal RTOs and RPOs.
  • Effective data security, protecting data from unauthorized access, ransomware, and breaches.
  • Proven compliance with regulatory frameworks such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for the protection of personal data, the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for secure data portability, and The Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s patient protection guidelines, which condition reimbursement for medical care based on compliance in patient privacy.

With such a diverse set of requirements, it’s no wonder that so many healthcare companies are turning to Cloud Volumes ONTAP to leverage data management capabilities that go beyond the basic offerings provided by the public cloud. Let’s take a look at some of these stories below.

Healthcare Success Stories with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

The following stories showcase how healthcare companies addressed their cloud challengers with the help of Cloud Volumes ONTAP to advance their approach to cloud computing in healthcare.

AstraZeneca: Cloud Migration and Cost-Effective DR for a Major Biopharmaceutical Company

AstraZeneca is a world leader in healthcare solutions and was recently successful in the development of one of the first COVID-19 vaccines. AstraZeneca uses data in their hybrid, multicloud environment to accelerate treatment timelines, advance research, and improve patient outcomes.

AstraZeneca leverages a hybrid multicloud strategy to combine the strengths of each provider and avoid vendor lock-in. To make this possible, AstraZeneca uses NetApp Cloud Volumes and Cloud Insights, managed centrally from Cloud Manager. With this deployment they gained these capabilities:

  • Highly available persistent volumes ensure RPO=0 and RTO<60 seconds.
  • Automatic Kubernetes persistent volume provisioning with Trident via Cloud Volumes ONTAP.
  • Security features integrate with their existing key-management solution, which was not possible with native cloud solutions.
  • Centralized management with NetApp Cloud Manager platform for the entire deployment.
  • The thin provisioning feature provisions storage only when needed, avoiding unnecessary costs of over-provisioning with no user oversight.
  • Infrastructure as code through Cloud Manager’s API gives AstraZeneca’s developers abstracted control over the public cloud infrastructure.
  • NetApp Snapshot™ copies and FlexClone® data cloning help developers accelerate testing and QA.
  • SnapMirror® and Cloud Volumes ONTAP give AstraZeneca full data mobility, allowing seamless data movement across hybrid and multicloud environments.

Find out more about the AstraZeneca story here.

McKesson Healthcare Distributor: Seamless DR and Reduced Cloud Costs

McKesson is the largest healthcare company in the United States, distributing one-third of all medications across North America. McKesson was using a private cloud as a service to deliver medicines, medical products, and healthcare services, but their existing framework could not scale to meet their growing needs and support their ordering applications. McKesson needed a data-driven infrastructure that improved time to market.

The company implemented an Azure cloud solution powered by NetApp Cloud Volumes. With this deployment they gained:

The McKesson IT team is now capable of delivering superior reliability, scalability, and availability.

Read the full McKesson case study here.

Publicly Traded Healthcare Company: Dynamic Highly Available Storage in the Cloud

This American, multi-national, company, one of the world's leading pharmaceutical health care companies, delivers innovative health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, and biologic therapies. In order to increase responsiveness to patient and customer needs and grow rapidly they defined a multi-cloud strategy and started to migrate file data from their data centers to high availability (HA) pairs of Cloud Volumes ONTAP on both Azure and AWS.

The choice of Cloud Volumes ONTAP as their cloud data management platform offered significant benefits, including:

  • Hybrid and multicloud data mobility and management between their on-prem and public cloud deployments.
  • Flexibility to start small and elastically scale up.
  • Consistency of features across different public cloud platforms
  • High availability protection and cross-region replication, providing non-disruptive operations, business continuity, and fault tolerance.
  • Dual-protocol (NFS & SMB) file storage

The pace of implementation was unexpectedly rapid, including support for multiple support vector machines (SVM) and centralized data management and automation in their hybrid multicloud environment via NetApp Cloud Manager.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Insurance: Hybrid DevOps and Kubernetes Orchestration

Blue Cross Blue Shield is a health company that provides insurance to more than 106 million people in the United States. BCBS North Carolina needed to make access to their data more agile and dynamic.

BCBS successfully leveraged NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP HA on AWS for their hybrid Kubernetes and OpenShift containerized platform:

  • Increased data visibility, improving identification of members’ health needs.
  • NetApp Cloud Manager provides interface simplicity, allowing engineering and operations personnel to concentrate on blended data displayed through a single pane of glass. This includes infrastructure-as-code capabilities through RESTful API calls.
  • Integrated data storage across hybrid architectures allows targeted healthcare services.
  • Kubernetes integration and dynamic persistent volume allocation with Trident.

Read more about this customer case story here.

Multinational Pharmaceutical Corporation: Shared Data with VMware Cloud on AWS

This American corporation engages in the discovery, development, and manufacturing of healthcare products specializing in medicines, vaccine, and consumer healthcare.

They chose Cloud Volumes ONTAP for its high availability, high performance, cost effectiveness, multi-protocol file sharing support, data protection, and data security standards.

The company managed to migrate "high profile" Sales Reporting functions (Informatica, Tableau reports, etc.) of 600 VMware VMs to AWS VMware Cloud and Cloud Volumes ONTAP.

Cloud Volumes ONTAP was quickly put into production, providing a bevy of benefits, such as:

Healthix Public Health Information Exchange: Aggregated Data and DR in the Cloud

Healthix is one of the largest public health information exchanges in the United States. In its effort to create composite profiles for over 25 million patients, the Healthix institution aggregates real-time data from the records of over 70 million providers and payer patients.

The rate of data growth at Healthix amounted to a massive 100 TB per year. To manage this rapid pace, Healthix implemented Cloud Volumes ONTAP and migrated its entire digital archive and disaster recovery environment to AWS.

Cloud Volumes ONTAP for AWS provided Healthix with:

Now, participating providers can use the reconciled data to manage patient populations and measure performance. Additional benefits to Healthix of this highly successful implementation are cost efficiency and scalability, with DR services and digital data backup likely to result in significant savings.

Read more about migrating Healthix and other healthcare institutions to AWS here.

AdvancedMD: Migrating a SaaS Healthcare Technology Vendor

AdvancedMD is a world leader in providing management solutions intended for small- to mid-sized medical practices. Their services include electronic medical and health records, billing, and telemedicine. Due to the highly sensitive nature of the data, the company must comply with strict regulations concerning privacy, availability, and safety.

When the decision was made to spin off AdvancedMD from ADP, the company had to quickly establish its own cloud-based data center. Cloud Volumes ONTAP for AWS provided the solutions they needed for their cloud digital transformation, with huge benefits:

  • More manageable expenses thanks to the pay-as-you-go, OPEX spending model.
  • In-house experts on storage were no longer required due to Cloud Manager’s single-pane data storage management interface.
  • Cost reductions through built-in storage efficiencies such as compression, deduplication, thin provisioning and automated storage tiering to reduce their overall storage footprint and costs.
  • They can recover quickly from the threat of data loss due to enterprise-level data protection using NetApp Snapshot™ copies.
  • Automation and orchestration capabilities allow them to scale dynamically as needed, treating infrastructure as code.

Read more about the AdvancedMD solution with Cloud Volumes ONTAP here.

Clinical Research Institute: Cloud-Based Backup and DR

This long-standing cancer research institute counts hundreds of researchers in its faculty. Their business is to transform discoveries into therapies with the purpose of eliminating cancer and related diseases.

In order to reduce the footprint and costs of their on-prem data center they decided to move their backup and disaster recovery data to the cloud with the help of Cloud Volumes ONTAP on Azure. Using Cloud Volumes ONTAP provided a number of benefits for this company:

  • Seamless integration with Microsoft Azure Site Recovery (ASR) service.
  • SnapMirror’s quick and efficient data replication continually synchronizes and securely protects the company data on Azure.

The end result is a dramatic reduction in the amount of data stored on premises.

Multinational Healthcare Company: Rapid File Share Migration to AWS

This global company researches and manufactures innovative consumer healthcare products including medicines and vaccines. The corporation operates nearly 100 R&D and manufacturing sites worldwide, spread over 150 countries.

The main business challenge the company addressed was to transition data from a major data center, including web servers that service 900 individual websites, in an extremely short period of time: 40 days. Cloud Volumes ONTAP was able to provide the solution:

  • Moved both NFS and SMB/CIFS workloads to a highly available multiprotocol file storage solution on AWS.
  • Implement Cloud Volumes ONTAP HA instances on AWS for production and non-production workloads, seamlessly integrating them with the company’s shared Apache web servers.
  • Complete the whole task, from demo through to production processing, within six weeks.

The company managed the retiring the old data center ahead of schedule and is now benefiting from resilient and efficient NFS and CIFS services on AWS, providing seamless support for all its websites.


Cloud computing in healthcare presents a significant number of challenges for the healthcare industry. NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP is the optimal data storage management platform that the healthcare industry is turning to meet those challenges and get more out of the cloud. It allows stakeholders across the entire health IT spectrum—vendors, providers, insurers, patients—to leverage the benefits of the cloud safely, reliably, and cost-effectively.

These healthcare companies discovered how to benefit from cloud computing for healthcare. Now you can, too.

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Yifat Perry, Technical Content Manager

Technical Content Manager