Grass-roots effort drives cloud business case

At Harvard Medical School, the IT department has become both business partner and service provider to users. The venerable institution has built a cloud computing solution based on user participation, and in so doing built its business case for the cloud.

IT charges a usage-based fee for storage and computing services and a separate fee for a network node. Users can reduce their fees by donating computing resources to the cloud. The model is a good fit with drug discovery and development users, whose computing demand fluctuates widely over time.

The school's cloud is growing by orders of magnitude, says CIO Marcos Athanasoulis, in SearchCIO. Because all users are part of the computing solution, they've become engaged in requirements.

Athanasoulis says he used an iterative development process to address concerns specific to the biomedical area. As a result, people are moving from designing giant projects to trying pieces of them in the cloud.

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