FOUR PILLARS OF MODERN COMPUTING: It was bound to happen, and the time has come for it to happen. Perhaps not too long ago, the field of medicine has been “taken over” by cloud computing, and from here onward, things will not be the same. Cloud computing is one of the pillars of modern computing. The other three pillars are broadband, big data and server virtualization. The field of medicine is not the only one that has been “taken over”. Practically every field of human activity could benefit from these four pillars.
CLOUD COMPUTING: Before cloud computing came along, companies or organizations had to put up their own data centers either in their own premises, or offsite in hosted facilities. That approach would entail a lot of capital expenses, investments that would go to waste as soon as the machines are depreciated. Because of cloud computing however, any company or organization could use the data centers of cloud service providers in remote locations. The internet cloud is neither a place nor a state of being, as many would try to describe heaven. In a manner of speaking, the internet cloud is the totality of computing power somewhere and everywhere, for everyone to use as long as they could afford it.
BIGGER BANDWIDTH: The bigger the bandwidth, the faster is the connectivity. From the very slow dial-up connectivity, we moved up to the not so slow digital service line (DSL) connectivity. Fast forward, many areas are now moving up to fiber connectivity. From that point on and onward, things will also not be the same. Broadband is the “juice” that enables us to transmit voice, text and data faster and better, the latter in terms of being more stable and more reliable. Because of broadband, we are now able to transmit or view larger files, and that includes big data.
BIG DATA: It could be said that big data has always been there, but until now the technology did not exist to mine all of it and to analyze all of it. Yes, the size of big data has always been there, but what is new is the ability of new technologies to read data, to fetch data deep down into the data assets, in ways that has not been done before. In layman terms, this would include every piece of data that has ever been recorded about a medical patient, no matter how many and how widespread it is. For example, that would include x-ray files and cardiograph files.
SERVER VIRTUALIZATION: Before virtualization came along, many servers were needed to provide the computing power of data centers. As it is now however, data centers including those in the internet cloud would need lesser servers. That means having more computing power with lesser expenses. This new technology is also good for the environment, because with lesser servers, lesser energy would be needed. In a related development, data storage space has been “divorced” from the servers, so much so that these are now scalable.
FROM BUYING HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE TO BUYING SERVICES: Because of cloud computing, companies could now buy offsite services without buying hardware and software. Actually, clients could now buy “Software as a Service” (SaaS), instead of simply buying software licenses. This approach is directly related to Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). More than ever, anything and everything could be outsourced now, and even the BPO companies could outsource their own computing needs to internet cloud service providers.
NETWORK-ABLE MEDICAL EQUIPMENT: Technically speaking, any machine that has a processor, a keypad and a display is a computer. That is why I always say that an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) is a computer, and so is a Point of Sale Terminal (POST). Given that definition, any digital medical equipment is a computer, including dialysis machines and x-ray machines. I have known this all along, but I never thought that all digital medical equipment could be networked. As I see it now, the state of the present technology has surpassed my own imagination because the equipment could not only be networked now, these could also be located in the internet cloud, thus eliminating the need for on-site machines.
LEVELING THE HOSPITAL FIELD: Because of cloud computing, any hospital big or small could now have access to all kinds of medical equipment and devices, no matter where they are, for as long as they could connect to the internet. Before cloud computing came along, only the big hospitals could afford to buy the big pieces of equipment, thus subjecting the quality of medical services to the availability of big capital. The field has now been leveled for the good of all.
THE KEYPAD IS IN THE DISPLAY: Before smart alecks would argue with me about what I said, I will say it first, that the keypad in the tablets and the smart phones is in the display. Therefore, there is still a keypad (or a keyboard) in these devices, except that it is already in the display (or the screen). What is most important in these devices is now really the keypad, but the processor that makes it possible for the software and the applications to work.
MOBILE APPS VERSUS WEB BROWSERS: Apps and browsers are completely different from each other, although they could work alongside each other. Apps are software applications that are “native” to the devices. Apps “talk” to the servers to fetch data when needed, but most application features are already in the devices. On the other hand, browsers are simply “readers” (or surfing tools) so to speak. Browsers actually “read” data from a website, meaning to say that the data in this case is “native to” or are “residing” in the site that is offsite.
THE MOUNTAIN GOES TO MOHAMMED: Simply put, Mohammed no longer has to go to the mountain, because the mountain now goes to him, figuratively speaking. That’s a big wow!
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