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Merck's Many IT Challenges

Eighteen months after Merck acquired Schering-Plough, integration remains a challenge.

Developing apps isn't all Merck CIO and executive VP of global services J. Chris Scalet is up to. In March 2009, the drugmaker announced it was acquiring rival Schering-Plough for just over $41 billion in cash and stock.

Eighteen months later, integrating the two pharmaceutical giants remains a huge challenge. Integrating the two company's R&D, manufacturing, supply chain, sales, and marketing organizations without disrupting customer service is high on Scalet's agenda.

Merck is also rolling out a global ERP system from SAP. The goal is to have a common set of data that serves as the "single version of the truth" for the entire organization, something Scalet expects will yield results in the realm of business analytics.

The company already has virtualized a significant portion of its server and storage infrastructure, which has cut the time it takes to provision capacity from weeks to days. Now it's aggressively moving toward the private cloud--and cautiously evaluating public services.

Scalet is cautious about the public cloud -- as a highly regulated industry, Merck has to move carefully when turning over applications and data to a provider. But that hasn't stopped the company from embracing the cloud for applications it believes are appropriate to move outside the firewall, namely SaaS-based CRM and some specialized HR apps that run as a service.

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