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An IT exec's agile quest leads to cloud services

The IT department is moving at the speed of light. Performance monitoring tools enable IT managers to ferret out and fix network problems in seconds, tasks that previously would have taken days or weeks. Cloud services allow both technical and nontechnical staffers to spin up a server in minutes — a process that only recently took William Hayes four months because of lengthy internal processes.

Hayes is director of decision support at Biogen Idec Inc., a global biotechnology company based in Boston. His job is all about getting the right information to the right people as fast as possible. Time to market is everything in biotechnology, a field where competitors race not just for market share but to find cures (in Biogen Idec’s case, for multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease).

By using cloud services, “IT is freed from patches and moving hardware, and instead is asking, ‘how do we get information to the people?'” said Hayes, whose background is in informatics.

Hayes is pushing hard for Biogen Idec to adopt cloud services on a wider scale. “To be agile, we can’t wait weeks to months to get servers to try new technology,” he said. But the cloud is “not a standard practice, day to day. The trick has been to upgrade internal IT processes. It’s easier to go completely cloud with new processes and concepts.”

Biogen Idec has been using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud for specific uses including application development, but for reasons including security and interoperability, “it’s been challenging to deploy that internally,” Hayes said.

Challenging, that is, until Hayes found a solution that offers both. Read more about Biogen Idec’s cloud computing strategy at in the coming weeks.

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