Driven by increased cloud adoption and tailored technological solutions, healthcare is becoming one of the fastest growing verticals in Australia.
Reflective of global trends, healthcare IT spending in Australia continues to increase, triggered by a growing and ageing population, advances in medical technology and treatments, and an increasing awareness of health-related issues.
For BEarena managing director, Darren Ashley, partnership with hyper-converged vendor Nutanix has allowed the Sydney-based reseller to expand into the lucrative healthcare market in Australia.
“We brought Nutanix to Australia in 2012 and realised that it’s suitable for all verticals,” he said. “Nutanix has architecture that allows businesses to scale infinitely but also tolerate loss of instances, or single nodes.”
As leaders in next-generation virtualisation, BEarena provides a range of managed services across on premise and cloud, striking partnerships with key vendors such as Nutanix, Microsoft, VMware, Veeam, Dell, Cisco and Pure Storage.
With core competencies in retail, government, automation and higher education, the company advanced its efforts within healthcare through strong end-user relationships, with one customer purchasing ten rounds of infrastructure.
“When you are getting repeat business over a three-year relationship, there’s got to be something in that,” Ashley said. “Nutanix in particular is attractive to healthcare providers because they don’t have to buy those huge monolithic storage devices, which comes with a pay as you grow model.
“We now targeting other healthcare customers, leveraging the success we’ve had with our first healthcare win.”
Consequently, Ashley said 30 per cent of the company’s business now comes from health, with the business owning an exclusive Nutanix relationship with one of Australia’s largest healthcare providers.
“We’re focused on a particular kind of technology,” Ashley said. “We don’t have a huge vendor portfolio and in terms of the platform, 99 times out of 100, it will be a Nutanix platform but they’ve got OEM relationships with both Dell and Lenovo, so it could be any flavour.”
According to IDC findings, top drivers for technology budget growth in healthcare include analytics, patient engagement, customer relationship management, and security.
“Security strategies are maturing,” IDC research director, Judy Hanover, said. “Cybersecurity is one of the new growth areas in the provider IT budget, and this growth is expected to continue in 2016.
“Threats are top of mind, but the increased availability of resources for IT security is allowing providers to begin to implement strategies to secure data and networks.
"Top priorities included focusing on security in the cloud, monitoring the environment, and controlling shadow IT.”
Meanwhile, analytics spending continues to grow, and big data is also here to stay in healthcare.
“Analytics continues to be one of the fastest-growing segments of the provider IT budget in 2016 as it has been for several years,” Hanover added.
“Ongoing investment in ACO, clinical, and quality will continue in 2016, but hot areas of new analytics investment reported also include provider and care team performance analytics, as well as analytics that examine referral patterns and other financial analytics areas.”
As digital disruption impacts all verticals, healthcare included, Ashley said the transforming technology landscape is triggering changing conversations with end-users.
In Australia, providers are taking advantage of more cloud implementations and leveraging mobile and analytics capabilities in the cloud.
Specific to health, comfort levels with cloud are growing, with hospitals and healthcare organisations increasingly seeing the viability of moving workloads to the skies.
“Our conversations of four years focused around what a vendor system looks like and the components within it,” Ashley recalled. “But today we talk about business outcomes and not hardware with our customers.
“Hardware is just a commodity, what we’re talking about is the simplicity.”
Ashley said trends such as cloud, mobility, storage and virtualisation have contributed to altering the “type and quality” of conversations with end-users across healthcare, as customer demands continue to change.
“Digital disruption has increased our customers’ storage requirements and it has made them serve their customers faster and lets them make things available immediately,” he said.
“It hasn’t dramatically changed conversations but the scale out story works well.”
Yet in the healthcare, Ashley said many providers still remain reluctant to send data to the public cloud, allowing BEarena to leverage its relationship with Nutanix.
“There might be a number of auxiliary services that they want to run in the public cloud,” he explained. “The Nutanix architecture, because it’s software based, allows customers to embrace the public cloud as it works with AWS and Microsoft.
“It’s attractive because the pay-as-you-go type model means that they don’t need to go out and spend millions of dollars on storage, they can start off with a smaller investment and as the number of images grows, they can just add nodes. It’s very simple to do that.”
Within health, Ashley said the long-term goal is to make workloads portable between on-premise private cloud infrastructure and Microsoft’s public cloud infrastructure.
“There’s an interest there but again, there’s not a lot of data that gets up on the public clouds,” he added.
Ashley said the deployment of Nutanix architecture within a health environment provides a strong customer advantage in that it blends with Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), allowing providers to centralise desktop services.
“Our largest customers in the healthcare space both run VDI and several other loads on the Nutanix infrastructure,” he said.
“VDI has made it easy to get information to doctors. In some of the hospitals, we’re no longer looking at clipboards at the bottom of patients’ beds. We’re now using an iPad and PCs. VDI has enabled better patient care.”
Delving deeper, Ashley said healthcare end-users also seek greater levels of availability from technology deployments.
“Our conversations are all around availability,” he said. “Businesses with traditional architectures very rarely revisit the architecture and apply software upgrade to a storage device, unless it’s addressing a particular bug or delivering a superior functionality.
“From a business outcomes point of view, they want availability 24/7 and don’t want to spend a fortune managing it. They want to take cost out of the IT infrastructure alongside a greater speed to market.”
Looking ahead, Ashley said BEarena has a goal to deploy this technology across every healthcare provider in Australia.
“Everything’s going digital and that leads to increased storage requirement, and availability of that data,” he said.
“That’s the perfect storm for this type of architecture. A lot of the healthcare customers we have don’t have large IT teams and with everyone trying to do more with less, that simplification and infrastructure resonates well.”
As the perfect storm descends over the market in Australia, for BEarena, success in the sector continues to offer a healthy return on investment.
This article originally appeared in the October issue of ARN magazine - to subscribe, please click here