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Engaging with Infrastructure as a Service providers: Advice for SMBs

As small and medium-sized businesses grow, storage and capacity considerations become increasingly important. One pharmaceutical company on the rise has turned to cloud computing Infrastructure as a Service providers to house and protect confidential patient data. site editor Wendy Schuchart spoke to Nathan McBride, vice president of IT at AMAG Pharmaceuticals Inc., at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2012 in Orlando, Fla., about his company's cloud infrastructure strategy. McBride suggests that organizations must perform due diligence and take certain precautions before engaging with Infrastructure as a Service providers.

Read the full transcript below and watch the video interview for more advice on cloud computing for SMBs.

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Can you tell me a little bit about the types of precautions that small and medium-sized business must take into account when they're looking to engage in Infrastructureas a Service (IaaS)?

Nathan McBride: Certainly. No. 1 would be authentication. I think that as far as authentication goes, when you start taking some of your core apps and putting them out to the cloud, so to speak, in the IaaS space, you need to take into consideration how your employees are now going to remotely authenticate to the services that are existing out there. This was a big problem that we went through, a big investigation that we had to undergo.

Then, furthermore, I think you need to consider storage and capacity. I think that for a lot of companies, they're not doing a particular capacity planning in the cloud because it's so cheap. But at the same time, if you're not watching your growth, it can get out of control pretty rapidly. Your cost can go from being credit-card-worthy per month, up to [purchase order]-worthy in a very short time. It's something that people need to keep an eye on when moving toward an IaaS system.

You partnered with a few vendors who achieved that correctly. Do you develop that in-house?

McBride: We didn't do any development in-house. We started our initiatives in the cloud back in 2008. At that time, as many people know, 'the cloud' wasn't a term. It was mostly 'Software as a Service,' which had just been born -- or reborn, I should say.

So we started looking at a very, very small market. There were vendors ... four or five guys developing in very small closets and cubicles around the world, developing products that would become, eventually, these very, very important key parts to the cloud. A lot of the vendors that we actually partnered with at the time, quite literally, were just a handful of people who had one particular strong concept about the cloud.

In order for us to achieve this, we had to partner with a lot of them and take a lot of risks. But through those partnerships, many of them, which were very successful for both sides, were able to engineer a cloud structure that we didn't have to develop. That's extremely strong, that's plug-and-play, and it allows us to essentially, any point in time, inject a new vendor into any link to provide any additional layer of security, authentication, auditing, etc. So that's how we build it. We don't have, unfortunately, the budget or the personnel, internally, to develop any of these things inside.

Watch part two 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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