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Heads in the clouds
June 2009
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author
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CARLSBAD, Calif.óLooking to ease bioinformatics challenges associated with ultra high-throughput sequencing, Applied Biosystems, a division of Life Technologies Corp., and Geospiza Inc. announced in late April they are combining forces to offer what they say is the life science industry's first jointly-offered genomic analysis cloud computing solution.

It's a genetic analysis solution they say is designed to meet the computational infrastructure and analysis challenges of customers using advanced genomic analysis platforms, and it will leverage the infrastructure of Amazon Web Services to provide resources in dynamically scalable, service-oriented manner over the Internet.

Cloud computing is a term that is still under some degree of evolution and redefinition, but is considered by many to be the next iteration of concepts explored in grid computing or utility computing. In cloud computing, the "cloud" refers to the Internet and in addition to being dynamically scalable, resources and applications are often virtualized and provided on a service model over the Web, bringing in aspects of infrastructure as a service, platform as a service and software as a service functions as well.

The companies say that a solution of this kind is significant and necessary because many scientists using next-generation sequencing platforms face significant challenges handling the vast amounts of data they generate with those platforms. This requires not only many hours but also significant computing resources to manage, distribute and analyze the data.

Applied Bio and Geospiza seek to solve this by using cloud computing to allow scientists to easily transfer their data to a data center, manage and store their data, and access bioinformatics software tools to analyze their data.

"We are constantly looking for new ways to innovate and expand offerings and services to our customers," says Rob Arnold, president of Geospiza. "Our products have been available through the cloud computing model for more than five years and are optimized for this type of architecture. We are excited to have the opportunity to work with Amazon and Life Technologies to offer virtually limitless scale and computing power to our customers at an affordable price through this initiative with Applied Biosystems and Amazon."

The combination of Amazon Web Services and Geospiza will enable scientists using the SOLiD System, Applied Biosystems' platform for next-generation genomic analysis, to access the most current analysis technologies, reportedly in real time. Using the processing capacity of Amazon Web Services, scientists using the SOLiD System also will be able to access the Applied Biosystems mapping tool for sequencing reads that is offered with Geospiza's genetic analysis software, GeneSifter.

"The solution we've created in partnership with Geospiza on top of the Amazon Web Services platform is a strategic initiative to ensure that scientists in the life science industry have Web-based, affordable access to the advanced genomic analysis tools they need to be successful with the SOLiD technology," notes Kip Miller, president of Life Technologies' Genetic Systems Division. "Taking significant steps to advance the bioinformatics structure to support next-generation sequencing will accelerate its use and unlock the full potential of this technology to bring about the era of personalized medicine."

"Amazon Web Services has been working to deliver powerful, cost-effective web infrastructure solutions to speed innovation and discovery," adds Steve Rabuchin, director of business development and developer relations for Amazon Web Services. "Deploying GeneSifter next-generation genetic analysis for SOLiD on Amazon Web Services extends the power of the AWS platform to an important community of scientists who are interested in advancing medical research."
 
Code: E060912

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