Cloud experts agree: choose carefully

Do your homework before selecting a cloud service provider. That's the message from those who know.

"Be cautious, but be open-minded," says Rick Franckowiak, director for systems engineering at the Pharmaceutical Research & Development IT organization of Johnson & Johnson. Likewise: "Be careful," says Brian Boruff, VP for cloud computing at systems integration consultancy Computer Sciences Corp., a cloud service provider.

Boruff and Franckowiak explained to FierceBiotech IT the need for such caution, as well as characteristics to look for in cloud offerings: security, agility, cost elements and biopharma suitability. A summary of our interviews with them is available here.

Cloud computing--a data-crunching force multiplier that allows companies to draw on resources across the Internet, either on the fly or as a dedicated service--is potentially disruptive to companies because it changes the dynamic of who owns the capital assets, says Boruff, turning traditional IT infrastructure models on their heads.

That's why cost is such a big issue in cloud service selection. But it needs to be expressed as cost of ownership, rather than cost per computing or storage unit. That calculation will be different for every purchaser, and the corporados will need to see it before they can get excited about the cloud.

Speaking of big issues, the concept of distributing corporate data across the Internet is likely to cause indigestion in the corporate suite, at least initially. Security reigns at or near the top of critical cloud considerations, says Franckowiak. And security concerns will reach beyond the executives to the researchers themselves, who are vested in protecting their work and their reputations.

Our cloud computing special report provides summary descriptions of service providers and their offerings. It includes a mix of large and small providers, as well as generalists and those with pharma-specific offerings. Special Report