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Cloud computing can be defined as a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (for example: networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. While this computing paradigm promises benefits such as reduced costs and improved business agility, there are also some legitimate concerns. Security and compliance considerations typically top the list of concerns related to cloud computing. This is especially the case in the healthcare domain due to various statutory and regulatory requirements governing the handling of sensitive information such as protected health information. This whitepaper describes select components of a highly secure platform for cloud computing that reduces the concerns associated with security and compliance so critical to the healthcare domain.Benefits of Cloud ComputingBenefits commonly cited of cloud computing include efficiency, agility, availability, and on-demand self-service. Efficiencies include cost reduction through server consolidation, improved performance, and energy reduction. Agility improves provisioning time from weeks or months, to hours or minutes, and includes automation and resource elasticity to respond to peak demands. High availability can be delivered for all workloads, regardless of location. It can protect IP, data, and differentiated business processes, and provide secure broadband network access to authenticated devices. Lastly, services can be delivered on-demand via self-service portals to streamline business processes. Services can be measured, reflecting actual consumption rather than costly investment in IT capacity for peak demand. IDC projects that worldwide IT spending on cloud services will grow almost threefold, reaching USD 44.2 billion by 2013, citing cost reduction and business agility as the foremost drivers during the economic downturn.Read the full Secure Healthcare Cloud White Paper.
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