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Dennis Barker
Dennis Barker
August 18, 2011 at 5:16 PM

Ditching In-House Servers for the Cloud Means Good Times for IT Service Providers

If you ask me, the most surprising IT news of the week was about the pharmaceutical company that is ditching its in-house server network as part of a plan to go all-cloud, all-the-time. Amag Pharmaceuticals has been weaning itself off its Microsoft Windows and Exchange-based system since a new CIO came in with a plan to replace the company's network with cloud services. 

For IT service providers, this spells o-p-p-o-r-t-u-n-i-t-y.

Nathan McBride, Amag's executive IT director, told Network World that his "five-headed dragon" strategy would implement cloud services for authentication, access, file system, communications, and client management. The company's Exchange server, for example, has been swapped out for Google Docs.

One of the things driving McBride's plan, which he has been working on for about three years, is the general accumulation of hardware and software that happens in just about every IT-based business to solve an immediate problem or provide a service needed pronto. People buy whatever they need, from computers to networking gear, which eventually leads to a massive management headache.

The cloud can certainly eliminate the problems of tech clutter and solution jumble, just as IT outsourcing can eliminate the management headaches for a company like Amag, which certainly has other things to focus on, like recouping the millions it invests in developing new drugs.

Many brilliant people have predicted massive migration to the cloud. The benefits, like self-service business processes, are hard to resist. But many brilliant people have also predicted that the cloud is going to put a hit on the business of IT service providers; you know, the "end of outsourcing" and all.

But that part doesn't sound right to me. The cloud, by opening up new ways of doing things, represents a giant opportunity for IT service providers, as well as for little software start-ups. The cloud is not simple. There is some assembly required. IT users involved in a complex business like pharma need a lot of specialized services, custom software, and of course management and security tools.

McBride, for example, mentioned needing a service for single sign-on. This entails needing plug-ins for about 15 applications. He found a vendor that already had what he needed. But the point is, building a functioning, effective, high-performing cloud system requires a lot of specialized software and custom IT services. There's no reason nearshore developers cannot grab this opportunity and earn the reputation of cloud specialists par excellence.

Some things just go away when a new platform takes over — but at the same time, the need for new products and solutions arises. It's all part of the tech circle of life. As companies that rely on leading-edge IT systems, like Amag Pharmaceuticals, abandon the old server way of doing things, nearshore developers should be knocking on their virtual doors, ready to prove their cloud-computing know-how and skills.



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