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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.

We got rid of desk phones. So everyone can either use their mobile phone or, if they still want to call from their extension, we retained our DIDs so every laptop is outfitted with Cisco IP Communicator software, so they can make calls from their laptop. Our entire building is wireless here. We have no wires except for power. So every employee can just pick up whatever it is that they have and go sit somewhere else.

You see people walking around the building all day with their Bluetooth air traffic controller headsets on their heads, talking to people. It's funny. And we have this area with couches and during the day people are just sprawled out there with their laptops working. It's a good feeling that we're not just all sitting in our little tiny holes. 

And our business continuity plan is now one bullet: go home. Because if the whole building shuts down, just go home and keep working, or don't come in, or go down to Starbucks. 

How about when it comes to other cloud services. Do you allow people to sign up for whatever they want?

We know people use Dropbox and Box, which is fine because I know where my documents are. Every document starts out in Google Drive and if you decide to move it to Box it's tracked. We know you've done that, and employees know we know they've done that.

We're not big fans of Box and Dropbox and we tell employees, "You know they're not secure, right?" But I'm unwilling to blacklist anything because that's like telling a 10-year-old boy he can't play Mario Brothers. He'll get up at two in the morning and sneak downstairs and do it anyway.

So rather than blacklist anything we listen and recommend. Someone comes to us and says, "I need to do this, and I was looking at this app." And we might say, "There's a better app to solve that problem and it also gives you x, y and z. And that's a huge win for us when that works. And if the user says, "No, this isn't going to work for me," we say "Let's look at the market together to see what else is out there?" 


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