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How Fortis Healthcare moved entirely to a public cloud

Radhika Nallayam | Aug. 6, 2014
Only 15 percent of Indian CIOs currently use or plan to use the public cloud. Here's why Fortis Healthcare's CIO is one of them.n--

Only 15 percent of Indian CIOs currently use or plan to use the public cloud. Here's why Fortis Healthcare's CIO is one of them:

On New Year's Eve in December 2013, when the rest of the world was putting on their dancing shoes, Varun Sood, CIO of Fortis Healthcare, was doing something that you wouldn't really call a celebration. But it was nothing less than an adventure. 

Sood was going to shut down the company's corporate datacenter and migrate the company's entire IT onto a public cloud!

If you thought Sood is crazy, you're not alone. In fact, many people within his team and outside his organization thought he had gone off his rocker. Indian CIOs were ready to experiment with hybrid  clouds — part private and part public — but a 100 percent public cloud model was something unheard of. According to CIO India's Mid-Year Review 2014, only 15 percent of Indian CIOs currently use or are considering moving to public clouds. 

And Sood falls in that bracket. But he was unfazed. So much so that the transition to the public cloud happened in a year after he took over as Fortis' CIO.

That said, it wasn't an easy call to make. Sood had to fight many cynics, including the one within him.

Breathing Business

Fortis is one of the largest integrated healthcare delivery providers with a presence in five countries. It has 65 healthcare facilities, over 10,000 beds, 240 diagnostic centers and a staff of more than 17,000 people.

That aside, Fortis had to be on the qui vive to beat competition and do well in the fiercely competitive healthcare business. And technology had a sufficiently great role in achieving that goal.

Its eICU (electronic ICU), for instance, is a tele-medicine venture aimed at providing expert services to critically ill patients in remote locations. Launched in 2012, a time when tele-medicine was yet to gain ground in India, the system was first-of-its-kind in the country. Sitting at the Central Command Center of a Fortis hospital, specialists provide advanced consultation and care to hundreds of people who have no access to such services.

That's not it. Use of wearable devices for neonatal monitoring is another way by which Fortis ensures high-tech patient care.

IT has to support many such critical systems at Fortis, and also be able to change with the changing face of the healthcare industry in India.

The company's corporate datacenter, which was at a hosted location, wasn't actually a problem. And maintaining status quo wasn't going to take too much of Sood's energy. But Sood was not someone to be content with status quo.

But Sood's 'business DNA' — the 10 years he spent in various business functions, including M&A, business analysis and integration — craved for change. Sood and his team sat together to understand how things can be done in a better way. Also, there came a point where he had to re-invest in the infrastructure which was nearing its end of life.


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