Role of Cloud Computing in the Life Science Industry

The life science industry focuses on the fields of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, biomedical diagnostics and generally improving the lives of organisms. In the case of pharmaceutical companies, they are essential for developing and distributing medicines to treat or prevent disease and infections.

Cloud Computing

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Biotechnology firms create and manufacture commercial products relating to medical applications. They function slightly differently from pharmaceutical companies because they research and exploit living organisms to produce or develop a product. Biomedical diagnostic companies develop instrumentation to detect and diagnose various diseases and infections, which is critical for early intervention. Life science is one of two branches of natural science and is concerned with living organisms. The other branch, physical science, is concerned with non-living matter.

The life science industry functions on large amounts of data. Hence, it requires an efficient and secure means of storing the data. The current method of doing this is in separate systems or silos. An effective way of making the data more accessible is by employing cloud-based platforms for storing data and executing software. This allows processes to be accelerated because of the global knowledge-sharing generated, which results in the faster rollout of vaccines, medicines, and an understanding of chemical and biological systems.

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing is an easily accessible on-demand computer system resource that provides services for data storage and processing power. It is also used to describe data servers available to a wide range of users over the internet. The purpose of cloud computing is to reduce costs and help users focus on their business needs instead of being blocked by IT challenges.

Virtual environment

Having a virtual environment enables cloud computing because it allows the system to be platform agnostic, meaning it can be run on any device, operating system, and web browser. This freedom of platform and accessibility creates a scalable system of multiple independent computer systems. Moving to a virtual environment provides a more agile process for increasing IT efficiencies and reducing costs.

Some limitations and disadvantages to using cloud computing are mainly around security and downtime. Cloud servers can drop out when they become overwhelmed by usage. This can result in a temporary suspension of business until the server is functioning properly again. Since cloud computing systems rely on the internet, a user cannot access their data or applications when the server is down.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Within the life science industry, a typical cloud computing model used is software as a service (SaaS) whereby users gain access to application software and databases, but the cloud providers manage the platforms that run the applications. SaaS is usually priced on a subscription fee basis, but can sometimes offer a pay-as-you-go service.

Typical subscriptions are monthly or yearly, which offers scalability in the situation where users are added or removed. Multitenant cloud systems help support cloud applications where the number of users are large. This means that any given machine can host several cloud-user organizations.

The benefits of cloud computing in the life science industry

Vaccines can take upwards of 10 years to develop. However, with the advent of global knowledge sharing with cloud computing, that process can now be completed in one year by removing the barriers around the physical location of data. In addition, better care can be provided to patients using cloud computing by allowing for a more efficient response to their needs. This is achieved by efficiently knowledge sharing by having a cloud-based platform to access data globally, which results in fewer rare cases being observed. Hence, patient recovery increases because of earlier intervention and customized treatment.

One of the many benefits of cloud computing in the life science industry is the ability to reduce IT operational costs by outsourcing IT maintenance and support to the cloud provider. This enables the life science industry to reallocate resources towards key objectives such as developing new vaccines or medicines.

In addition, cloud applications in the industry allow for upgrades without the need for on-site servicing. Hence, there is a growing number of life science and pharmaceutical companies that are recognizing the value of cloud computing. However, a major reservation to the technology is data security.

Sources:

  • Montazerolghaem, Ahmadreza; Yaghmaee, Mohammad Hossein; Leon-Garcia, Alberto (September 2020). "Green Cloud Multimedia Networking: NFV/SDN Based Energy-Efficient Resource Allocation". IEEE Transactions on Green Communications and Networking. 4 (3): 873–889.
  • Hamdaqa, Mohammad (2012). Cloud Computing Uncovered: A Research Landscape. Elsevier Press. pp. 41–85.
  • Haghighat, Mohammad; Zonouz, Saman; Abdel-Mottaleb, Mohamed (2015). "CloudID: Trustworthy cloud-based and cross-enterprise biometric identification". Expert Systems with Applications. 42 (21): 7905–7916.
  • Indu, I.; Anand, P.M. Rubesh; Bhaskar, Vidhyacharan (August 1, 2018). "Identity and access management in cloud environment: Mechanisms and challenges". Engineering Science and Technology, an International Journal. 21 (4): 574–588.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Sep 27, 2021

Dr. Grant Webster

Written by

Dr. Grant Webster

Grant is a dedicated senior scientist with a thirst for understanding the unknown. He has a Ph.D. in Chemistry and specializes in analytical and physical chemistry with academic and industry experience in the use of vibrational spectroscopy coupled with chemometrics/multivariate statistics for applications in the life sciences, biomedical diagnostics, and environmental science fields.

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