Deepak Singh, a biotech liaison with Amazon, is of the opinion that biological researchers are slower when compared with the rapidity at which their counterparts in tech embraced cloud computing. To him, biological researchers need cloud computing as a matter of necessity.
The term Cloud computing refers to any server solution that delivers hosted services online via the internet. The services are usually divided basd on three wide categories: Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
For those interested in computer aided human genomes, according to Singh, there are still some challenges to overcome. Amazon has risen to the occasion. It is making effort to store data on human genome at a less expensive and easily accessible way. In Singh own words, customers “have started looking at the cloud computing very seriously as a possible option”.
Customers and partners in all continents are now in hot pursuit of the rentable server model of Amazon. Geospiza, which is into bioinformatics software, stores genomic data with the use of Amazon’s servers on a partnership bases. Life Technologies which is into instrument making is also taking advantage of Amazon’s server. The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard together with Harvard Medical School are not left out.
C. Titus Brown is currently creating a strong awareness for cloud computing in relation to genomic research. He is an expert in microbiology and computer science. He teaches at Michigan State University as a professor. Currently, students are being taught how their experiments can be made reliable and carried out with less stress and greater accuracy by storing data through Amazon Web Services.
For a company that made $24.5 billion in 2009 as revenue, the financial benefit from this venture is unclear. Singh chose to keep mute on this.
Amazon still has some barriers to contend with. There is need to decentralized the labs where much of the sequencing is done. The quality of data generated by some of the existing labs is so much that one is in doubt if they have the required bandwidth for transmitting all the data to servers belonging to Amazon. No biologist will take lightly the handling raw data. He will prefer to keep it from the public than have a vendor take possession of it.
Cloud computing services have three major distinct characteristics, which differentiates them from regular hosting. Cloud computing services are sold on demand, usually priced based on the minute or hour. They are elastic, allowing the user to opt for as little or as much of the service as required at a given time. Thirdly, the service is managed completely by the service provider. All the user needs is Internet access and a personal computer.
These three features make cloud computing more cost effective, flexible and also easy to initiate and manage. Major innovations and improvement in distributed computing and virtualization coupled with improved access to fast internet have also contributed to a surge in cloud computing interest. The relatively cheaper option will also certainly attract many small business that are all trying to cut cost to survive in the present weak economy.