Displaying articles for: 05-03-2009 - 05-09-2009
I sat in on some presentations by a group of seniors and grad students a week or so ago at the University of North Texas. One of the presentations was about business continuity. Unfortunately, they had a very IT-centric view that was more about data disaster recovery than real business continuity.
During the discussion, we asked them about many different issues to address in a business continuity plan, and one thing came up over and over (usually in a humorous fashion), and that was the implications of Swine Flu.
This article in IEEE on-line discusses some simulation work being done at Virginia Tech using a model called EpiSimdemics. This model tries to project the implications of a disease outbreak based on the demographics of those infected. The areas identified as needing attention (e.g., rail) may surprise you. Some of the fellows within EDS did quite a bit of analysis on this from a business continuity and cultural perspective a number of years ago, and looked at how IT could help prepare an organization.
One of the ways that IT helps address a situation like this is via simulation and modeling (a proactive approach), but there are other ways as well, like allowing people to work at home and travel less (a reactive approach) and automation of processes, reducing the amount of people interaction all together. It is clear that with the amount of travel today and the continued reliance on people working together to generate value for an organization, that disease outbreak needs to be part of any organizations business continuity planning activity, just like fire or an earthquake. We may get a bit more notice and time to react, but its implications can be just as profound.
Reading the IT media these days, coverage of cloud computing overshadows most other subjects. Cloud is clearly a hot topic these days, with many of the attributes of a fad. There is an overwhelming amount of information, some of which is conflicting, circulating around the industry. CIO's and other business leaders are trying to keep up with these trends, but sometimes it is difficult to separate aspirations from reality.
In "Enterprise Cloud Forecasting", one of the strategies I put forth was the "replacement strategy", by using the cloud to replace or re-host existing IT systems. The combination of the current economic situation along with claims of raw IT services at pennies an hour is driving much of the initial interest in using the cloud as a replacement for private IT infrastructure. What we've seen is that when enterprises inquire about "cloud computing", they are usually interested the associated benefits that cloud promises and may not realize the alternatives available to deliver similar results. The focus is on the flexibility provided by cloud, such as:
- less investment in physical assets
- resources that are pooled and shared across workloads
- scalability and flexibility
- the ability to pay for resources as they are consumed
It is important to have a holistic perspective on all of the various application and infrastructure options available to move towards these goals. Organizations need to recognize that the majority of these benefits can be achieved through in-house and hosted environments by employing other techniques, such as virtualization and automation approaches.
In evaluating cloud versus traditional IT service delivery, the following points should be considered:
1. Enterprises will use the cloud and cloud computing technologies to add value or reduce cost of business operations - the cloud is a means to an end; not an end in itself.
2. Cloud will not replace private datacenters for traditional computing any time soon - cloud is a selective and additive capability for an Enterprise IT portfolio.
3. The future of enterprise IT will be a hybrid environment for the foreseeable future, comprised of both dedicated and cloud-based resources and services.
4. The cloud is the next stage in the evolution of the Internet, moving beyond transporting information as a service to acting upon it as well.
5. Enterprise adoption of cloud computing technologies and services is limited by perceived and real barriers stemming for requirements for security, privacy, trust and quality.
There are other well-known alternatives for delivering IT services, even in the "shadow of the cloud". Part 2 of this series will compare and contrast the ‘non-cloud" alternatives, and how enterprises can consider what workloads are suitable for different models of infrastructure services.
"Robodoc" shouldn't be confused with the software product "ROBOdoc" that helps software development organizations automate software documentation in source code. It does however have closer ties to "RoboCop", a police officer of the future featured in a 1987 thriller. "Robodoc" is a robotic medical device that automates the delivery of potentially life-saving care to stroke patients. Treating stroke patients is time-sensitive, as studies have shown that some patients have a better chance of making a reasonable recovery if a clot-busting drug is administered within a three-hour window.
"Robodoc" allows a doctor located miles, or even continents away to examine a patient brought into an emergency room through a laptop equipped with a joystick. A video screen positioned on top of the robot's body displays an image of the doctor. Cameras mounted above the screen are the robot's eyes, giving the doctor a view of the patient.
This remote presence tool in the telemedicine arsenal allows hospitals access to scarce specialists wherever they are in the world to evaluate a patient in a matter of minutes and deliver care that could be life-saving. The implementation of this technology in Folsom was only made possible by a philanthropic donation by a local family.
As with all new technologies in healthcare, incentives encourage adoption. The potential to improve patient care and mortality rates is endless. What's good for the patient is also good for the doctor. Doctors could be anywhere in the world, including the sipping wine at the Tignanello vineyards in Tuscany, Italy. I can see some new federal regulations governing the use of "Robodoc" in the near future! Seriously, why does it take the philanthropic generosity of private citizens to drive innovation in healthcare? Shouldn't every hospital have one?