Accelerating Life Sciences Discovery with Innovative Storage

This month in Boston, over 3,000 life sciences, pharmaceutical, clinical, healthcare, and IT professionals from around the world will attend the annual Bio-IT World conference. We’re excited to be part of this vibrant event, and to showcase our solution ecosystem with partners such as iRODS, Avere Systems, Aspera, Globus, and information technology solutions provider, OnX.

We sat down with Paul F. Mazzola Jr., Principal Solution Architect at OnX Enterprise Solutions, to understand the changes happening in IT infrastructure supporting life sciences, hear what CTOs are contending with and why Bio-IT World is the event to be at.

What are the biggest storage challenges impacting organizations in the field of biomedical research, pharmaceuticals and healthcare?

Within life sciences the creation of research data and data generated by instrumentation is exploding! Organizations must seek new technologies to store, access and manage the massive data created and are looking to do it at a lower, more cost effective price point. Storage is a major hurdle for the data deluge. IT can no longer be done as it has been done before.

Storage is a major hurdle for the data deluge. IT can no longer be done as it has been done before.

Three key technologies are bringing about great changes: flash, object storage and the cloud. Flash is key for Big Data and speeding up processes to solve problems better; the cloud has brought a whole new dimension of scale and flexibility that was unimaginable before; object storage is one of the technologies that enable cloud infrastructures.

A range of public cloud providers offers object storage. But many customers are looking at an option for ‘on-premises’ object storage, creating a private cloud (or hybrid cloud) storage environment. The new generation of private cloud object storage delivers many of the benefits of public cloud, including non-disruptive scale and lower cost in comparison to traditional solutions. In addition, it allows for data to be more assessable with the reassurance and control of on premises storage in your organization’s data center.

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There seems to be a lot of confusion about of how to best take advantage of these new technologies – what do you see in the field?

We work with a lot of different organizations to help them map the right technologies for their business needs. Whether it’s a technical challenge, a performance requirement or the need to become more competitive, there is no single ‘right’ solution out there. The massive changes in IT infrastructure, and the multitude of solutions available, are a challenge in itself!

When it comes to flash technology, it clearly offers a far better response time and data efficiencies than spinning disks. However, it’s often seen as a costly investment. What many organizations don’t realize is that flash is already at the inflection point of being more cost effective than spinning disk for particular workloads. The cost of flash has not only come down dramatically but flash can facilitate substantial hardware consolidation, with a major impact on performance, data center power, space and cooling footprint.

On the other end of things, unstructured data is seeing astronomical growth, and our traditional SAN and NAS block and file protocols need to be re-evaluated. I think many companies don’t realize yet that many NAS systems will not be able to support this growth of data, neither from a storage management perspective nor from a price point. Object storage is changing that landscape by offering an entirely different approach of distributed data protection and seamless integration with the cloud. Object storage can offer a large-scale platform for long-term archiving and deep archive at a fraction of the cost of traditional file and block storage. This is particularly important for life sciences due to strict requirements around retention, security and regulatory compliance.

How are CTO’s taking on these challenges?

The monumental changes in data creation and storage have IT under a lot of pressure.

The monumental changes in data creation and storage have IT under a lot of pressure. Not only is there a tremendous pressure to support more, faster data at lower costs, but suddenly, a lot of things moved out of their control – whether it’s shadow IT or spinning up instances in the cloud.

The cloud caused a big disruption. CTO’s are still trying to understand how to build their cloud infrastructure. Life sciences are extremely data-intensive, and there has been great adoption to support the progressive maturation of the cloud in areas of security, microservices, and new applications. But there are so many new developments that the community still lacks a clear set of best practices. This is exactly why Bio-IT World is such a key event- it’s a unique opportunity to understand latest trends in the market and for us to help customers map business issues to technology.

What can we expect at Bio-IT World 2017?

Bio-IT World is one of the largest life sciences events in the world! We’re excited to be partnering with HGST this year. From the highly scalable, modular object storage system ActiveScaleTM to HGST flash devices, HGST solutions have been key for helping our customers. Bio-IT world will offer a great opportunity to learn how to take advantage of object storage to build cost-efficient archives, with instant access to data and extreme reliability so you can unfailingly access, retain and store valuable data.

Make sure to come by the HGST booth #560 to understand more about the “OnX Storage Optimization Discovery Workshop.“ Our expert strategists have decades of technology and vertical specialization experience. This half-day workshop examines your IT environment, identifying issues and constraints, and then maps them to more efficient and easier to manage storage architectures with expert advice and best practices.

I look forward to seeing you in Boston!

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