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Unplugging the data center

John Dix | May 2, 2014
Nathan McBride joined AMAG Pharmaceuticals in 2008 with an ambitious goal: to rebuild IT using as little internal infrastructure as possible. He succeeded.

It was a very nice period of enlightenment for the company. In the background, of course, we're stripping Active Directory. And the beauty of it was that now when somebody emailed the help desk saying, "Please install my printer software," the response would be, "Here's the link. Feel free to do it yourself at your own time. If you need help, let us know." So the mind shift started right then and there for support.

For the cloud services you have today, do you specialize by application, or do you look for a company that can offer you a host of services? 

We're big believers in not putting our eggs in one basket. And the only exception to that would be Google. Google not only does our mail now, but with some third-party auditing services we use, they also do our file sharing in collaboration. So we have some additional layers on top of Google because again, though we have our eggs in that one basket, we try to offset it with as much risk mitigation as possible. 

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Otherwise, from a cloud vendor approach, we're constantly looking at the market and saying, "Here's our business need, and who is the best in the industry in this particular niche?" Our loyalty only extends to those who innovate the fastest. My vendors know this. They know every October when it's reckoning time they're going to be put up against everybody else in the market to see how well they stand and how well they're doing. And if something's been going wrong we'll generally switch to somebody else. That's usually transparent to the end users when that happens. It's a buyers' market these days. Whereas in 2011 you might only have one or two vendors per vertical, now I have 50 to choose from.

How many do you have today?

Company-wide, 24.

Have you had to go swap some out, and if so, how painful is it?

We have, and the effort depends on the users it effects. So when we dropped WebEx for Join.Me, that barely registered a note. We had 20 trainings in-house and via conference calls to the field on how to use this new tool and why we were moving over, and when it finally came around to it, it was kind of anticlimactic.

We switched over from Egnyte to Google Drive after giving Egnyte multiple warnings. They're a big file sharing company. But they insisted on continuing to use WebDav for file transfer. We did not want to employ webdav in any way and preferred other methods. So we moved on. Same thing with YouSendIt. We are huge fans of YouSendIt, but we are eliminating environments that allow themselves to authenticate to social media platforms, which has all sorts of implications, so we switched.

 

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