cloud computing and pharma:

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3 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 7 μήνες)

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cloud computing
and pharma:
a prescription for success
melisa bockrath
As the development of new clinical
products has become more complex,
government compliance regulations have
become increasingly complex as well. To
ensure patient safety, meeting compliance
mandates takes precedence over integrating
new technologies. As a result, big drug firms
have had to spend the past few years to
other industries in implementing enterprise
software systems that allow researchers in
laboratories around the world to collaborate.
but in a fast-paced global marketplace,
traditionally conservative drug companies
can’t afford to drag their heels in
embracing the new world of business it—
cloud computing.
cloud computing and pharma:
a prescription for success
Pharmaceutical companies have long been considered late adopters of new
technology, preferring not to stray too far from familiar territory.
Because the pharmaceutical industry
is focused on research, discovery, and
development, it lends itself to the
collaboration and agility that cloud
computing offers. Location and device
independence allow companies to share
resources across large pools of users,
enabling the scalability of services on a
self-serve, real-time basis. The burgeoning
amounts of next generation sequencing
data, the growing necessity for public–
private partnerships (PPPs), and the need
for integrating data sharing are just a
few of the technology trends driving an
increased interest in cloud computing
by pharmaceutical and biotechnology
companies. industry analysts estimate that
the data generated by the pharmaceutical
industry doubles every six months. In
addition, clinical trials have become more
adaptive by the incorporation of signal
detection technologies, and the efficiency
of forecasting and global supply chains has
become increasingly streamlined. Digital
technology has made it easier for sales and
marketing teams to use social networking
tools in order to develop stronger
relationships with physicians and patients.
Moving research and development to the
use of public and private clouds enables
standardization of operations, better
integration, higher reusability, and stronger
collaboration with business and research
partners as well as the entire health care
community. pharmaceutical companies can
scale project teams up and down quickly
and efficiently based on the number
of trials they are running, regardless of
locations of team members. Although
questions about security and privacy still
linger in the minds of decision makers in
drug companies, they are gradually warming
to the idea of cloud computing because
streamlines operations and saves money
The primary business advantage for companies is a reduction
in dependence on legacy IT infrastructures.
of palpable benefits such as enhanced
collaboration, speed of deployment, and
cost savings.
the most obvious cost benefit of cloud
computing for any organization is a
reduction in capital expenditures, because
infrastructure is provided by a third party.
This saving is particularly important for
small biotech start-up companies, who can
ramp up their business more quickly with
fewer costs. In addition, savings on capital
expenditures allows companies to invest
more heavily in their research and discovery
efforts. Hardware and software need not be
purchased for single or infrequent computing
tasks, and physical space requirements are
lower. But savings extend beyond the cost of
equipment to include costs associated with
maintenance, upgrades, and even utilities.
Pharmaceutical companies have traditionally
housed and maintained large numbers
of CPUs that must be run continuously
during the discovery process of R&D, and
it can take dozens of hours to complete
a single analysis. But with a cloud-based
business model, scientists can work with
data whenever they need to, wherever they
are located, and servers don’t need to be
running when they are not needed.
Lilly has a massive installed base of
computers that are operating at full capacity.
According to Andrew Kaczorek, senior
systems analyst, utilization of the systems
is spiky because there are hundreds of
different users. “the result is that for
days at a time our clusters are at 100%
of capacity,” kaczorek says. “This means
there are actually scientists who have
work to be done that is literally sitting in
a queue.” Lilly is discovering that cloud
computing can eliminate these wait times
while also dramatically lowering utility
costs. The company recently launched
a 64-machine cluster computer to work
on bioinformatics sequence information.
Using a third-party cloud computing
service, the firm executed the project in
20 minutes for a cost of $6.40. To do the
same project internally would have required
installing and qualifying a 64-machine
cluster and then running it for 12 weeks.
Although the distributed storage and
processing advantages of cloud computing
for pharma are evident, many companies are
wary of making the change due to security
issues, such as a lack of communication
standards for research using the internet.
Drug companies are also figuring out
what types of data are most appropriate
for cloud storage and online processing.
Information sharing is essential for high-
quality research, but companies must secure
intellectual property in order to avoid civil
or criminal penalties, negative publicity,
and potential business interruption due to
non-compliance with HIPAA regulations.
Some analysts speculate that vast amounts
of sensitive data managed behind
firewalls may affect the usefulness of cloud
computing for the pharmaceutical industry.
yet the explosion of life sciences data,
particularly in the area of genomics
research, seems ideally suited to the
use of cloud computing. Because of
advanced nanoscale and microfluidic
technologies, DNA can be monitored
by photographic sensors that generate
proven advantages for pharma giants
Eli Lilly & Co., Pfizer, Genentech, and Johnson & Johnson are among the first drug
companies to explore the benefits of saving time and money with cloud computing.
TIFF images up to 800 gigabytes in size.
“This creates a massive data-capture and
handling problem,” says Chris Dagdigian,
a consultant for BioTeam. “We are now
in an era where instruments that are
showing up in very small wet laboratories
are capable of producing a terabyte or
more of data in a day.” Data technologies
for DNA sequencing and gene profiling
can generate overwhelming amounts of
data very rapidly, and next-generation
technologies are expected to increase the
magnitude of the challenge presented
by storing and managing that data.
Pharmaceutical companies and service
providers alike agree that although cloud
computing is still in its infancy, everyone
is excited by the promises this technology
holds. Beyond storing and processing data,
the cloud also provides a virtual environment
for collaborative work and an efficient
resource for archiving and managing clinical
trial data. Scientists can work in a more
iterative way and maintain the momentum
of research projects. And, as Lilly’s use of the
cloud demonstrates, there are proven cost
a promising forecast
community. Continuing to use traditional
in-house IT processes may threaten to
increase burdens on infrastructures to the
breaking point. For the pharmaceutical
industry to move forward and keep pace
with the changing technology landscape,
companies can either continue maintaining
and upgrading internal infrastructures,
or embrace the proven benefits of cloud
computing and its potential for changing the
way they do their work.
savings and dramatically shortened research
times, both of which are extremely attractive
benefits to drug companies. From a patient’s
perspective, cloud computing enables them
to have a higher stake in managing their
own health decisions and treatment through
telemedicine and remote health monitoring
for problems such as diabetes, cardiac
issues, and sleep disorders.
The past decade has seen dramatic changes
in the way pharmaceutical companies do
business in an increasingly complex global
• Mullin, Rick. “The New Computing Pioneers.” Chemical & Engineering News, Volume 87, Number 21.
May 25, 2009.
• Krishnan Subramanian. “Biotech Companies and Cloud Computing.” CloudAve, May 29, 2009. http://
• Upton, Julian. “How Cloud Computing is Aiding Pharma.” Applied Clinical Trials Online, January 14,
• Koroneos, George. “Pharma and Cloud Computing: Are We There Yet?”, June 16,
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about the author
MelIsa BocKrath is Vice President, It centers of excellence, Kelly
services, a leader in providing workforce solutions. she holds a Bachelor
of arts in Marketing communication from Michigan state University in
east lansing, Michigan.