Eli Lilly's Cloud Computing Breakthroughs Offer 80/20 Help - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // CIO Insights & Innovation
Commentary
1/15/2009
12:36 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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Eli Lilly's Cloud Computing Breakthroughs Offer 80/20 Help

Using the cloud, Eli Lilly can now deploy a new server in three minutes (instead of 50+ days) and can get a 64-node Linux cluster online in five minutes (instead of 100 days). Those types of technological breakthroughs can help IT teams cut maintenance costs and fund innovation. And at Eli Lilly, the managerial breakthrough came when it focused on the cloud's possibilities instead of its uncertainties.

Using the cloud, Eli Lilly can now deploy a new server in three minutes (instead of 50+ days) and can get a 64-node Linux cluster online in five minutes (instead of 100 days). Those types of technological breakthroughs can help IT teams cut maintenance costs and fund innovation. And at Eli Lilly, the managerial breakthrough came when it focused on the cloud's possibilities instead of its uncertainties.As my colleague John Foley wrote yesterday on his excellent new site, Plug Into the Cloud, the pharmaceuticals company is using cloud services to provide high-performance computing to hundreds of its scientists and is evaluating whether the platform can be extended to external collaborative research partners as well.

My point in citing those fairly gritty technical details about servers and clusters is to underscore that for companies to be able to harness the potential of cloud services as well as other dynamic new technologies, CIOs need to couple those tech innovations with an equally bold management outlook -- one without the other will not yield breakthrough results.

And that's where John Foley's piece on Eli Lilly takes on huge significance for CIOs -- as John writes, "By early 2008, however, pressure was growing to reduce fixed IT costs without compromising on IT services, and cloud computing proved to be the answer."

For this Global CIO post, John shared some additional comments from Eli Lilly's Dave Powers, an associate information consultant who's been with the company for 13 years:

  • "Everyone can figure out why not to do this. Our approach was the opposite -- how can we make this work?"
  • The instantaneous nature of cloud services "have become very disruptive for us."
  • There's a "sense of urgency" at Eli Lilly to lower fixed costs while continuing to innovate in research.
  • "It's really opening up new possibilities for us."
  • Cloud computing has "redefined time for us."
  • These are some heady concepts, particularly in their suggestion of liberating two enormously valuable assets: time, which can be devoted to innovative customer-centric efforts instead of internal wheel-spinning; and precious IT budget dollars, that can be reallocated away from the 80% maintenance sinkhole and toward the 20% innovation fund. For CIOs in 2009, there is no more urgent and valuable priority.

    To find out more about what Lilly's doing in the cloud, be sure to check out John Foley's post on Plug Into the Cloud. Also, John's post includes a link to a Webcast John did with Lilly's Powers and with Amazon's Adam Selipsky -- you can sign in for that Webcast here.

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