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Comparing Cloud based 340B Solutions

The growing adoption of cloud has legacy on-premises 340B vendors and recent market entrants to offer cloud versions of their 340B solutions.  Like any product or service, no two cloud based 340B solutions are the same  In this blog,  I explain some of the differences and what to look for among cloud based 340B solutions.

Evaluating differences between cloud based 340B options
Considering factors that affect performance
Choosing a solution that ensures data protection and security
Gausing your savings in administrative costs

Data Management Expert, RCTECH Solutions Inc

Understanding Approaches to 340B solutions in the Cloud

Infrastructure as a Service
Platform as a Service

340B Technology vendors all provide access to a 340B deployment via internet and typically operate on a subscription or usage-based model.  But the following cloud approaches offer significantly different product capabilities.

Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS): This methodology requires the customer to install traditional 340B software on computers provided by the cloud platform provider. The customer manages all aspects of the cloud hardware and Cloud based 340B software. In addition, the capabilities of the 340B solution are identical to the same software deployed using on-premises hardware.

Platform-as-a-service (PaaS): With this hybrid approach,  the 340B service provider provides the hardware and software as a cloud service.  The vendor manages the hardware deployment, software installation and software configuration.  However the consumer manages, tunes and optimizes the 340B software.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS):​ With the SaaS approach,  the 340B service provider provides all hardware and software as part of its service, including all aspects of managing the hardware and software.  Typically included in the service are software and hardware upgrades,  security,  availability, data protection and optimization.

With all of these scenarios,  the task of purchasing,  deploying and configuring the data center space,  and the hardware to support the 340B solution, transfers from the customer to vendor.  Beyond that advantage,  the benefits and drawback of the different offerings can vary from ease of user to security and availability.  This blog discusses some of the key differences among various cloud based 340B offerings.


If a 340B service vendor merely supplies access to its traditional 340B software via the cloud, the solution is likely to resemble its original, on-premises architecture and functionality.

Comparing 340B Platform Architectures

Many 340B vendors offer a cloud based 340B solutions originally designed and deployed for an on-premises environments.  These traditional architectures were created long before the 340B cloud and its benefits emerge as a viable option.  Alternatively,  any 340B solution built for the cloud should capitalize on the benefits of the cloud.

To identify a 340B solution built on a cloud optimized architecture, look for the following characteristics:

Centralized data storage

Independent scaling of computer and storage resources when your processing 340B invoices for more pharmacies concurrently.

Increased concurrency without competing for resources

Load and Query 340B data simultaneously without degrading the performance 340B invoice generation process or 340B replenishment order process.

A robust 340B metadata service that applies the entire system. 

A cloud based 340B architecture also takes advantages of storage-as-a-service, where data storage expands and contracts automatically and transparently to the user.  Data Storage designed for older 340B architectures remain expensive and has limited scalability.

Assessing a 340B Solution's Ability to Manage Data Diversity

Data must be tranformed before it's loaded into a traditional, cloud based 340B database. Or the pharmacy must buy and maintain an additional system to handle this scenario.

A key factor driving the adoption of cloud based 340B solution stems from the growing volume of the data that originates in the cloud - outside a pharmacy's data center.  In most cases, this non-relational data must be transformed before loaded into a traditional 340B solution on-premises or in the cloud. This approach adds significant complexity and delays to accessing the new data.

With this greater volume and variety of data,  the cloud has become a natural integration point.  An ideal way to address this issue is with a cloud based 340B solution that can handle both relational and non-relational data, and without having to transform the non-relational data or compromise performance during the data loading or subsequent query process.

Evaluating the Scaling and Elasticity of Different Options

Not all cloud based 340B solutions feature the same type of elasticity.  Advanced cloud based 340B solutions can scale up and down, on the fly, and without taking the system offline or putting it into a read-only mode.

Consider the drawback of the solutions that don't scale well:

A Cloud based 340B solution that requires manual reconfiguration involves careful planning and coordination with the vendor to scale the resources.

Scaling may require additional downtime or a switch to read-only mode to redistribute data and reconfigure the system.

Most cloud based 340B offerings bundle compute and storage on the same node, requiring customers to scale both when they need to increase just one or the other.

Comparing Concurrency Capabilities

Concurrency is the ability to perform tow or more tasks simultaneously or allow two or more users access to a computing solutions. In a traditional 340B solution, fixed compute and storage resources limit concurrency.  WIth cloud,  however, compute and storage are not fixed. Cloud optimized 340B architectures support concurrency in the following two ways:

Dynamic distribution of data and additional compute resources makes it possible for multiple users to query the same data simultaneously wihtou degrading performance.

Loading and querying can happen concurrently.  The cloud based 340B solution should enable separate compute resources for different workloads. 

Gauging 340B Software Performance

One of the great promises of the Cloud based 340B software is the ability to have huge of amounts of resources available that you can pay for only when you need them.  Look for a cloud based 340B solution that can optimize performance on demand and eliminates administrative effort to incorporate new resources.


Accounting for Administration

Traditional 340B softwares require a significant amount of the customer's time, effort and expertise.  One or more 340B administrators must perform software patches and upgrades,  data paritioning, workload management, statistics update and security management, backups, performance tuning, etc.,

At a base level,  a cloud based 340B solution that's built on older, on-premises technology still requires the customer to manage all of these aspects.  Newer Cloud based 340B offerings reduce or eliminate much of this management overhead through new designs and automation.

A cloud based 340B solution should also make it easy to recover from errors or problems created by the loading process with features such rollback, recovery which enable simple access to previous versions of data.

Six Steps to Getting Started with Cloud based 340B...
On-Premises versus Cloud based 340B Solutions
 

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Tuesday, 10 December 2019
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