The Digital Solutions Accelerating Scientific Discovery
Industry Insight Jul 12, 2018 | Karen Velardi, Thermo Fisher Scientific
Science advances at a rapid pace, and supporting technologies and infrastructures have to adapt accordingly. One of the latest evolutions in technology is the shift from traditional software and hardware tools to newer cloud-based services. In fact, the change has become so apparent that the cloud market is expected to increase by over 20 percent in 2018 to a total of $186 billion, according to Gartner Forecasts. This growth is driven in large part by the favorable cost, scalability and performance of cloud computing over conventional solutions.
Research and manufacturing organizations have traditionally invested heavily in onsite servers for information storage, which present considerable challenges when data access and sharing needs evolve. As organizations grow, so too do the demands of their users. This expansion inevitably requires more storage capacity and better computing power – factors that can be cost prohibitive and difficult to scale with conventional onsite servers. Cloud-based computing services, on the other hand, can quickly and easily scale with company growth, and provide increased computing power that can be harnessed by any user for improved sharing and collaboration capabilities. With the ability to run computing applications from the cloud, onsite computers simply become a conduit for information and require limited localized processing power and resources.
Cloud-based platforms for evolving digital science
By making it easier to adapt to increased data generation and organizational growth, cloud-based platforms have emerged as a powerful solution to enterprise computing demands. A number of different cloud computing models exist to support the varying needs of individual organizations. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platforms, for example, allow companies to offer their own services and solutions through a cloud provider. Alternatively, businesses can also leverage a cloud provider’s infrastructure to develop software tools or even complete data management platforms within the cloud. These Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) solutions are used by science, technology and manufacturing organizations to support data management and analysis processes. Many businesses prefer the latter, as they offer ready-to-use software and provide the infrastructure on which to deploy custom software.
Cloud-based laboratory information management systems (LIMS), scientific data management systems (SDMS), and electronic laboratory notebook (ELN) services are just a few SaaS platforms that are enabling seamless data management, automation, collaboration and integration across scientific processes and workflows. Laboratories can connect instruments to cloud-based LIMS, for example, where raw data sets can be automatically uploaded for easy retrieval, and instruments can be monitored for in-run quality control feedback. And as every file, record and action is traceable, these systems provide end-to-end control of data and enable straightforward compliance review.
Digital solutions are allowing users to easily collect, store, recall and share data, streamlining analysis and providing a single source from which all information can be accessed. Associated applications, such as pre-made analysis protocols for liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry workflows, for example, can bring a level of customization to a platform that allows companies to use only those services most relevant to their needs. Applications can provide templates for specific processes within workflows that can boost efficiency based on industry best practices. The added flexibility of combining applications to fit the exact requirements of each workflow can help organizations achieve optimized, project-specific data management.
Cloud solutions support organizational transformation
The ability to leverage cloud infrastructure onsite offers enormous opportunities for organizations to transform data management and meet their evolving needs. When the cloud can outperform traditional computing tools and automatically execute improvements as needed, there is no longer the need to maintain expensive servers or perform intensive system upgrades. Moreover, the versatility of cloud-based offerings adds further value by helping organizations create highly efficient, integrated workflows.
As science advances, it is inevitable that the tools and techniques at researchers’ disposal will evolve too. Using the latest digital solutions, companies can better align their long-term vision with changes in technology to ensure they remain on top of the latest trends and innovations. Automation, digitalization and flexibility all play a key role in supporting the scalability and growth of any business or research laboratory. The latest digital solutions offered by cloud service providers are transforming the way laboratories manage their data, accelerating scientific discovery and supporting future growth and collaboration.