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Pharma: Clouds on the Horizon

by Craig Morgan

With unrelenting pressure to be first to market with the next big block-buster drug it's really challenging for life science organizations to invest in on-premise software and its associated infrastructure.

Pharma: Clouds on the Horizon

The cloud plays a strategic role in helping pharma in its pursuit of innovation and efficiency improvements, but what considerations should be made before replacing existing on-premise solutions with SaaS solutions?

Recognizing the Cloud

With the recognized benefits of the cloud many vendors are repositioning their old on-premise solutions as SaaS solutions, but these offerings are "fake clouds" - on-premise apps just running on a data center. Take time to ask questions of the vendor to understand the underlying architecture and administration practices of the SaaS solution, which should be 100% web-based, designed from the ground up for the cloud.

Equally important is to ask what other customers have deployed their solution, you want to be transiting to an industry proven solution, seek references. Do your due diligence, otherwise you might end up being a software testing bed for vendors new endeavors at your cost.

It's all about Performance

It's not really about on-premise vs. cloud, or security; it's about cloud vs. performance. The largest cloud providers (e.g., AWS from Amazon) provide security and data protection that is on par or better than the security provided by in-house IT functions. Additionally, cloud providers rigorously install software updates and security patches – tasks often ignored in deployed on-premise applications.

Cloud solutions are readily available that can replace inefficient on-premise applications and for a lot less money. Pharma needs to re-evaluate everything through that lens. Pharma's acceptance of cloud computing, even for mission-critical applications and data, is inevitable.

Breaking down Silos

On-premise applications have historically been deployed by departments or business units in individual silos, with time consuming and difficult integration projects required between siloed applications needed to facilitate the flow of information. These legacy applications were acquired over the years and were never designed to integrate with each other. Cloud-based suites of applications were designed with the benefit of hindsight and take a more holistic approach often offering an end-to-end continuum with APIs to facilitate ease of integration when necessary.

Cloud providers enhance standardization with clients' organizations. By allowing configuration but not customization cloud deployments help pharmas ensure that all of their sites are technologically compatible. Therefore, data can be shared within the enterprise without having to convert to other formats. At the application level, SaaS providers update their applications so that users don't have to.

Evaluating SaaS solutions allows organizations an opportunity to reassess their existing business processes before deploying to the cloud in order to maximize productivity and create a more efficient and effective organization.

Eliminating Pain Points

An evaluation of your existing IT infrastructure landscape should uncover where the cloud can add value on top of legacy on-premise applications or replacing systems/processes that are inherently inefficient, such as those replacing paper, Excel or homegrown in-house applications that are now obsolete with the globalization of drug development.

Organizations that are slow to adopt the cloud run the risk of being left behind and eclipsed by their competitors. The time to make the transition is now, a "wait and see" adopt is not a strategy by a recipe for disaster. A piece meal mitigation to the cloud is a lot less risky than doing nothing at all.

A Different Partnership Paradigm

Cloud based software vendors view their customers as strategic partners and welcome feedback on product enhancements and usability, unlike on-premise software vendors, they are operate based on subscription and retention models and are highly motivated to listen to their customers and continually improve their applications.

Conclusion: Embracing the Cloud

Overall, cloud based solutions are simply better situated to deal with the pace and complexity of today's global businesses versus on-premise counterparts. They provide superior flexibility, instant scalability, user-intuitive features and all at a lower total cost of ownership.

But leveraging the cloud to achieve maximum benefit requires a cultural change; a dedication to change management and process optimization, by deploying and utilizing those value-added features to better analyze business performance and industry trends to make optimal decisions for organizational growth.

Download our white paper goBalto Cloud Platform: Management, Monitoring and Compliance to see how key practices employed by goBalto to manage and monitor the platform on behalf of our clients.

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