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Cloud service broker partnerships, Google Apps power SMB strategies

Fostering excellent relationships with cloud service brokers has one Massachusetts pharmaceutical company IT executive feeling confident in his approach to cloud infrastructure and Google applications. site editor Wendy Schuchart spoke with Nathan McBride, vice president of IT at AMAG Pharmaceuticals Inc., at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2012 in Orlando, Fla., about how small and medium-sized businesses can work with a cloud services broker to develop a solid cloud infrastructure rather than try to complete all of the development using in-house resources.

Read the transcript below and watch the video to learn how strong partnerships with a cloud services broker can power an SMB cloud strategy.

I would think many companies with fewer than 500 employees are turning to vendor partnerships to develop valuable cloud infrastructures today, rather than doing this in-house.

Nathan McBride: I would agree. I think right now, the big paradigm shift is toward cloud service brokers (CSBs), which is a concern of mine only because a lot of these so-called cloud service brokers, or cloud service migrators, are partnering with specific vendors. They're bundling those services into one unit, which they sell you at an expense-per-month rate.

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The only problem is, that decreases the company's ability investigate the entire field. In a lot of these verticals, where three years ago there might have been one or two vendors, you're now looking at 30, 40, sometimes 50 vendors in one little space in the cloud.

As a company, it's worthwhile to investigate all of the vendors in that space, rather than focusing on just buying a bundle. If you need to buy a bundle, obviously there are multiple CSBs you can do that through. But in my opinion, and through our investigations, we found that by looking at the entire market and constantly investigating it -- because it's constantly maturing -- you can pick out those really excellent vendors that will do just that one niche characteristic for you. I'd say we probably have 12 to 13 vendors who will do that one niche characteristic, and we wouldn't want to purchase in a package deal.

And the CSB market is growing. It's emerging now. A lot of these bigger vendors are snatching up the small ones. It's something that companies are going to have to decide what to do, I think, as we go forward. You either stick with Google -- we use Google -- but then, just stay with Google. Don't buy the whole Google bundle from a VAR. Buy just the Google part and then pick all the other pieces yourself. Or if you don't have the time or inclination, buy the Google bundle. And get all the things that come with it. You can take either avenue, but it depends on the leadership and the strategy of the IT department.

You spoke to picking out little pieces of Google's services. Without, of course, breaking any HIPAA laws or anything, can you speak to the solutions that you've chosen though that system?

McBride: Sure. With the Google Apps environment, the APIs are easily accessible for developers. And now, there's actually some new technology recently released that's really opening up the development market. The Google Apps API allows for vendors to develop any one of a number of different types of plug-ins and structures to go on top of the enterprise itself, which are your basics: Your mail, contacts, calendar, your YouTubes, etc. But when you begin to look at the plug-and-play architecture, that's your OAuth [open authorization] injection of apps. You have things now [such as] Prezi, you have Gliffy, you have DocuSign -- which is one of those apps that we're really looking at now, even though we use EchoSign, because DocuSign is the small vendor. They are going to go after a certain niche corner of the market. It's all these vendors now that we're strongly looking at, or are already using, that continue to plug in at different places.

We looked at document auditing in the cloud. We used CloudLock for that. And CloudLock allows us to do a specific function with all of our Google Docs. We have almost a million documents in Google. For us, knowing where they are at any given time, being able to see which ones are important, which ones aren't -- that's a very, very critical thing. A lot of companies who, for instance, won't go to Google Apps, or are afraid to, are afraid of not having control over their documents in the cloud.

Watch part one of this interview.

Let us know what you think about the video; email Wendy Schuchart, site editor. For midmarket IT news and updates throughout the week, follow us on Twitter @ciomidmarket.

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