Article

Eli Lilly dumps Amazon Web Services over legal struggle

Jo Maitland, Executive Editor

Amazon Web Services poster child, Eli Lilly has walked away from using the cloud computing service after failing to come to terms over legal indemnification issues.

Sources close to Eli Lilly say the pharmaceutical giant was at its wits end trying to negotiate a contract with AWS that would push some accountability for network outages, security breaches and other forms of risk inherent in the cloud, to Amazon Web Services. But it got nowhere, these sources said.

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Eli Lilly began using AWS over a year ago to analyze and crunch non-production data much faster than it could on its own infrastructure. It was able to launch servers on AWS in minutes rather than months, saving millions of dollars in IT costs.

However, as the company has tried to move more high-profile datasets including corporate data to AWS, it wanted Amazon to assume more liability should there be a breach or outage that affected its business.

"Amazon has one contract and you can take it or leave it," the source said. "They won't assume any liability."

Meanwhile at the Burton Group conference in San Diego on Wednesday, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels touted Eli Lilly as a high profile customer and talked about security and liability being a "shared responsibility" between AWS and its customers. "At Amazon security is our number one priority," he claimed.

Vogels said cloud was the area to raise the bar for enterprise security. "It's not enough to be on par with what you can get in the enterprise right now," he said.

Drue Reeves, research director at Burton Group, now part of Gartner, challenged Vogels on stage at the conference to "be more transparent" about AWS' security policies. "We want to trust you but we need more information," he said.

It's clear everyone's for more security in the cloud, but assuming responsibility for it, or liability when things go wrong, is incredibly elusive right now.

Tanya Forsheit, founding partner at the Information Law Group said cloud providers must move away from the "click through, take it or leave it" approach to contracts if they expect to win enterprise customers. "Very few customers can afford to be in that position," she said. She advised companies to walk away from the business if the cloud provider is not willing to negotiate on liability. "Make it a matter of competition," she said.

Eli Lilly is negotiating with other cloud providers.

Amazon Web Services did not respond to a request for comment.


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