How cloud computing is transforming the life sciences

EMC Corporation

By John Kaleski, Country Manager ANZ, Virtustream
Friday, 13 September, 2019

How cloud computing is transforming the life sciences

Life sciences cover a diverse set of fields, ranging from biomedical devices and pharmaceuticals all the way to life systems technologies and nutraceuticals. Plainly speaking, it’s the study of life and organisms in all their forms.

These fields, and the explosion of advancements that are encompassed within them, have been instrumental to the constant and safe advancement of humanity. Biomedicine, for example, is a cornerstone of modern health care and has brought forth numerous recognised accomplishments, such as the mapping of the human genome. Work in these fields, however, is never done; for instance, smallpox. While the World Health Organization officially declared the devastating disease eradicated in 1980, essential research continues to this day to ensure the world remains free of this deadly virus.

Clearly, any data that is being produced from research within these fields is of great importance to humanity. In fact, for many people it is quite literally life-changing.

While striving to remain on the cutting edge of scientific discovery, researchers need more agile and powerful computing in order to drive towards a better future for everyone. And, equally important, their research and data need to be easily accessible yet securely protected. Our future, after all, could depend on it.

It’s all about the data

The requirements of researchers involved in the study of life sciences are unique. Teams and individuals working around the globe need to access huge amounts of data easily, efficiently and on-demand. Any uploaded data must be processed in real time or near-real time, and in large amounts, by high-volume compute power.

Having access to larger data volumes gives scientists the ability to investigate and process more essential data and increases the possibility for quicker results, deeper insights and, ultimately, the potential for new life-altering and life-saving discoveries.

Critically, the important data that is being generated through this research needs to be managed, protected and secured.

Mission-critical research calls for mission-critical clouds

The complex, mission-critical needs noted above are the exact reason why a mission-critical cloud platform can play such a huge role in transforming life sciences.

Enterprise-class cloud computing offers adopters the ability to run extremely large datasets, perform complex calculations and access data in real time from anywhere on the planet with a connection. It also offers remote access to users and drives virtual collaboration, which empowers teams that may be distant from each other to work together and leverage each other’s insights in ways that are not available with traditional on-premises computer infrastructure and working models.

It’s important to remember that the research and data being stored is often sensitive, regulated and/or proprietary. Mission-critical cloud offerings like the Virtustream Enterprise Cloud platform can provide the required levels of integrated security, including related services and certifications, and product features such as encrypted data at rest, in use and in motion, without negatively effecting I/O performance. Securing and protecting information in the cloud can give researchers and businesses peace of mind.

Enterprise-class clouds should also provide disaster recovery solutions in the form of data replication at dispersed data centres, and RPO and RTO capabilities, data backup and recovery options. Finally, top-tier cloud platforms also conform to local and international compliance requirements.

Innovation and inspiration

When researchers can trust their data and research in the cloud, they are free to drive new innovations in their fields of study across the life sciences.

Having access to the larger data volumes facilitated by cloud computing gives life scientists the ability to investigate and process more essential data, increasing the possibility of faster advancements and new discoveries. Cloud solutions also encourage real-time coordination between partners and facilities worldwide, breaking down time zones and encouraging greater collaboration.

Organisations also can introduce data orchestration solutions, such as SAP Data Hub, into their cloud environment, enabling them to better organise, distribute, share, subset and manage their critical data while achieving a better return on their big data initiatives and investments.

SAP data management and archiving solutions can also be leveraged alongside a cloud deployment to reduce storage and memory costs, alleviate performance constraints associated with sizing and ensure that all data adheres to compliance and regulatory data requirements.

By innovating in the cloud, researchers can achieve better productivity, ultimately resulting in more time and resources being available to further investigate the big issues facing the world today.

The future

It is believed that in the next 3–5 years the majority of pharmaceutical research activities will transition to the cloud, and the reasoning is clear. Cloud computing delivers cost savings associated with leaving traditional software and IT infrastructure behind, increased agility, quicker response times to compliance and legal requirements, easier scalability of computing power and storage capacity and more.

Alongside this, the cloud can provide world-class availability and resiliency, data protection and recovery, and security and compliance.

In short, cloud computing can have a massive impact on the life sciences. It can empower organisations, teams and individuals to examine larger datasets in search of previously undetected patterns and correlations and enables quicker and easier sharing, while also streamlining how a company stores and manages its data within a highly secure environment. In essence, cloud-based IT becomes a critical innovation lever itself within the super-charged engines of life sciences research.

Image credit: ©

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