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Cloud Outage Highlights Pitfalls as Well as Promise

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, August 14, 2012

As federal and state dollars continue to flow to automate healthcare information systems, expect an accompanying stream of federal and state oversight and investigation into outages such as these. There have been no reports of serious incidents caused by the recent outage, but the risk of adverse events triggered by the unavailability of electronic records will only grow.

Don't expect vague explanations such as "human error" to mollify regulators or the public. Cerner should have gotten out in front of the coverage of this month's outage by posting a detailed explanation through its blog or a press release. It did neither.

One reason CIOs cling to their own data centers is that they gain a totally transparent view into their IT infrastructure. All the way back to the dawn of personal computing, a great benefit of data centers has been a view under the hood.

The cloud changes all that. Service providers sometimes let users in on all the inner workings of their operations, but often they do not. Diligent CIOs extract as much knowledge as they can during the evaluation process, but cloud-based services are often so complex as to overwhelm even the best-trained CIOs. There's a booming business in consultancies that can help make sense of cloud offerings, so CIOs can anticipate and head off trouble.

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