Exploring the cloud laboratory: biotechnology and cloud computing

The continued drive for innovation puts immense pressure on IT departments to develop new technologies at speed, while also making sure that they do this cost effectively.

Add to this the fact that, more so than other industries, biotech firms are extremely tightly regulated. As a result, IT groups within this industry are often reluctant to introduce more complexity into what is already a very complex environment.

To them, expanding a data centre can often feel a whole lot easier than navigating the regulations of the cloud. Despite this, growth in the demand for cloud computing in life sciences research and development is escalating due to the benefits it brings to the industry – benefits like exceeding regulatory requirements, for example.

iland have worked with many companies in the healthcare, life sciences and biotech industries. Therefore, it knows from experience that the implementation of cloud computing in biotechnology empowers organisations with the control and flexibility needed to lead the way in both the research world as well as the businesses world.

>See also: 10 trends that will influence cloud computing in 2017

For example, iland recently worked with a US based biotechnology organisation on their backup and disaster recovery (DR) strategy, and were able to drive global data centre consolidation with host-based replication to the cloud. As a result, its DR testing and auditing processes were greatly simplified and streamlined which drove significant cost savings as well as compliance assurance.

If you still need convincing here are three additional key benefits that cloud brings to biotech organisations.

Processing big data

When the Human Genome Project began it was one of the most extensive research projects in the field to date costing billions of pounds and lasting over a decade.

These days, thanks largely to cloud technology, it can be done in just 26 hours. Things such as drug R&D, clinical research as well as a whole host of other areas have benefited just as much from the rapid growth of computational power. The better your technology is at crunching huge sets of data, the quicker you can innovate.

Cloud computing within the biotech sector can take big data analysis to the next level by means of performance, connectivity, on-demand infrastructure and flexible provisioning.

Labs can also benefit from immense computing power without the cost and complexity of running big onsite server rooms. They can also scale up at will in order to make use of new research and ideas almost instantly.

Concerns have been voiced that so called scientific computing in the cloud may make results less reproducible. One concern is that cloud computing will be a computing ‘black box’ that obscures details needed to accurately interpret the results of computational analyses.

>See also: How cloud computing can transform the pharmaceutical industry

In actual fact, by leveraging the application program interfaces (APIs) in the iland cloud, biotech customers are able to integrate cloud data back into on-premises IT systems to ensure that data analyses done in the cloud can be easily shared and consumed by other applications.

Essentially, cloud computing services bring more players to the table to solve the giant puzzle. It’s a win-win situation from an economic and patient standpoint, and several big name companies are jumping on the biotech cloud bandwagon.

Compliance and access control

Biotech companies need to maintain strong access and authentication controls, while also being able to collaborate easily. For this reason audit trails and other measures are often required to verify that information has not been improperly altered, and that good experimental and manufacturing procedures have been followed.

At the same time bio-technologists need to be able to access and share data across multiple departments or even multiple companies.

Cloud computing in biotechnology makes this all possible – it centralises data, ensuring security and data sovereignty while facilitating collaboration.

It supports extensive user and role based access control, two-factor authentication and integrity monitoring to prevent improper access and changes. In addition to data encryption, vulnerability scanning and intrusion detection, these measures facilitate security and compliance, without disrupting the internal workflow.

Real-time reporting

Complex regulatory requirements and logistics combined with niche markets make efficiency paramount within biotechnology. Even minor mistakes as a result of sloppy process management can easily result in major issues.

Real-time operational reporting dramatically improves efficiency, quality control and decision making, allowing organisations to react instantly to challenges and opportunities, both internal and external.

>See also: Managed cloud: making the most out of public cloud computing

As well as enhanced billing visibility and resource management functions, the release of the vendor’s secure cloud services means that the its cloud now includes on-demand security and compliance reports.

This advanced cloud management functionality is designed to foster strategic, self-sufficient control of a cloud environment, optimising overall cloud usage and costs to drive business initiatives and growth.

Without a shadow of a doubt, cloud technology can help biotechnology companies build the future. From research and development to marketing, computing affects everything an organisation does.

Sourced by Monica Brink, director of marketing, iland

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...