Life Sciences Conundrum: To the Cloud or Cloud-in-a-Box?

Below is a guest blog from Ketan Paranjape, director of personalized medicine at Intel.

There has been a lot of news recently about cloud deployments in life sciences and genomics. With the push towards taking genomics mainstream through clinical deployments, cloud computing may not be something you think about right off the bat. With all the privacy and security rules, like the EU's General Data Protection Regulation, or the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), naturally you are concerned and want to stay local and on-premise.

There is therefore a need for turnkey "appliances" that can operate independently with and without the cloud. Last year, BioTeam and the Galaxy Project formed a strategic alliance and introduced the SlipStream Appliance: Galaxy Edition -- a high-performance, server class device pre-loaded with a fully operational Galaxy analysis platform. By using SlipStream Galaxy, the average lab can save up to one month of deployment time with start-up cost savings (typically charge-backs to IT department) that are easily more than $20,000. The SlipStream Appliance is architected to deliver power, expandability, and affordability.

Today, we are announcing a strategic partnership between BioTeam, Intel and SGI to roll out a new version of the SlipStream Appliance. The system will contain - 2x 10-core (20 cores total) Intel® Xeon Ivy Bridge E5-2600v2, 512GB to 1TB ECC RAM, 2x120GB Data Center SSD + 8x4TB SAS 6Gbps Enterprise HDD and Dual-port 10GbE standard. Details on the software and support categories for this Appliance can be found here.

With the increasing throughput of data generation instruments, the dynamic landscape of computational tools, and the variability in analysis processes, it is challenging for scientists to work within the confines of a static infrastructure. At the Galaxy Community Conference this week in Baltimore, BioTeam will discuss some of these challenges and the technical advances they have been working on to build a more flexible Galaxy Appliance to support the changing compute and analysis needs of the scientific researcher. James Reaney, Senior Director at SGI, will also be giving more details on the SlipStream Appliance.

From a recent article I read by Joe Stanganelli on Cloud Security FUD Drives Genomics Industry towards Cloud-in-a-Box: "Of course, the choice between cloud computing and on-premises processing is not mutually exclusive. Cloud security is a worry, but so are the scalability and cost of on-premises devices. Local processing consoles that can work independently of the cloud or be cloud-enabled offer the best (and worst?) of both worlds."

Regardless, any decision about whether to go to the cloud or the "anti-cloud" (or both) must involve serious cost-benefit analysis.

What questions do you have about cloud computing in life sciences?