Bioinformatics is a developing interdisciplinary science which combines information technologies into biological researches. The techniques from this emerging field have shown great potential in many business areas including drug design, agriculture, and so on. Meanwhile, this new computational field has also been one of the largest consumers of computational power, as the analyses in bioinformatics are often extremely computationally or data intensive. Although there are already several projects which have done tentative exploration on deploying bioinformatics applications to cloud environments, the deployment is ad-hoc and restricted to a single private cloud environment. Moreover, the complexity of various demands of bench biologists and bioinformaticians also brings new challenges to bioinformatics cloud development. In this paper, we first identify the key participants and their interactions in a public bioinformatics cloud environment, where bioinformatic analyses are consumed as services on top of a cloud infrastructure. After that, we propose a research framework to discuss the domain-specific technical challenges in delivering such a solution. Finally, we summarize the existing related research efforts based on our framework and introduce our ongoing Web Lab project. © 2011 IEEE.