Pharmaceuticals Test-Drive the Cloud
May 26th, 2009 By: Rich Miller
Which industries are seeing strong enterprise adoption of cloud computing? The pharmaceutical industry, for one. Chemical and Engineering News highlights how several drug makers are test-driving the cloud. Among them is Eli Lilly & Co., which has used Amazon’s EC2 platform to rapidly deploy compute capacity.
“We were recently able to launch a 64-machine cluster computer working on bioinformatics sequence information, complete the work, and shut it down in 20 minutes,” Lilly’s Dave Powers told the magazine. “It cost $6.40. To do that internally—to go from nothing to getting a 64-machine cluster installed and qualified—is a 12-week process.”
Security remains a concern for some types of applications. Some pharmaceuticals are discussing the viability of the cloud for managing clinical trial data. An excerpt:
Karen Riley, a spokeswoman for the Food & Drug Administration, says cloud computing is clearly new territory. “If cloud services become the archive for clinical trial data, our concern would be to safeguard the system for write protection in order to prevent tampering,” she says. Auditing companies such as Google would not be practical, she says, and the responsibility for data security would likely remain with the trial sponsors. Riley notes that FDA already trusts secure external servers for e-mail communication of clinical trial data.