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Eli Lilly - Amazon Web Services story still stands

This week I wrote a story about Eli Lilly’s struggle with Amazon Web Services over legal indemnification issues.

Sources told us that Eli Lilly was walking away from contract negotiations with AWS for expanding its use of AWS beyond its current footprint. AWS has chosen to hide this fact by claiming the story says Eli Lilly is leaving Amazon completely, which was not reported.

Since publishing the story Amazon’s CTO Dr. Werner Vogels has called me a liar, attempted to discredit and claimed my sources are wrong, all via Twitter. I am curious if he thinks any enterprise IT professionals are following his tweets? My hunch is not many, but that’s another story.

Information Week followed up with Eli Lilly to check out the story and was given this statement:

“Lilly is currently a client of Amazon Web Services. We employ a wide variety of Amazon Web Services solutions, including the utilization of their cloud environment for hosting and analytics of information important to Lilly.”

This statement does not refute the issue at the center of my story which is that Eli Lilly has been struggling to agree to terms with AWS over legal liability issues which has prevented it from deploying more important workloads on AWS.

Yes, AWS still gets some business from Eli Lilly, but larger HPC workloads and other corporate data are off the table, right now.

The story raises lots of questions about the murky area of how much liability cloud computing service providers should assume when things go wrong with their service. So far, AWS seems unwilling to negotiate with its customers, and it’s certainly unwilling to discuss this topic in a public way.

That’s AWS’s prerogative, but the issue will not subside, especially as more big companies debate the wisdom of trusting their business information to cloud providers like AWS, Rackspace, etal.