How Digital Transformation is Powering Genomics Research

By Gary Thome, Vice President and Chief Technologist for the Software-Defined and Cloud Group at Hewlett Packard Enterprise

From the discovery of DNA over a century ago to the sequencing of the entire human genome, the study of genomic research has come a long way. Due to recent advances in technology, researchers now have the capability to sequence a genome faster and more cost effectively than ever before. And the information they gather from understanding a person’s unique genetic profile can be used to find and administer better medical treatments.

New technologies speeding genomic research innovation

One of the leaders in genomic research is HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. Located in Huntsville, Alabama, the institute’s work in biotechnology has resulted in life-saving discoveries that enable the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases.

The computational work done at HudsonAlpha is data-intensive – and constantly growing. HudsonAlpha generates more than 6 petabytes of data a year that must be managed, stored, manipulated, and analyzed. To continue to advance their research goals, they needed to digitally transform, which meant rethinking how they implement IT within their organization.

New innovations for on-premises private cloud

The first step in their digital transformation was to deploy a private cloud on premises, which would serve as the IT foundation of all their research projects. For this private cloud, they needed solutions that were powerful and easy to manage – that would also give them the flexibility and scalability to meet the ever-increasing demands of their researchers.

HudsonAlpha started looking for something that would give them more efficiency than anything they had used in the past. This led them to hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), a cost-effective and easy to implement infrastructure that removed many of their production bottlenecks.

Their next step in finding the right mix of infrastructure included composable infrastructure, which was the ideal platform for their on-premises private cloud. It gave them more power, agility, and ease of use – at a price point that was better than anything else available in the industry today.

Composable infrastructure incorporates compute, storage, and network fabric together as a single pool of resources that can be instantly configured according to specific needs of each application. Each component is software-defined and controlled programmatically through a unified API, which allows a single line of code to optimize the infrastructure needs of each application.

HudsonAlpha is seeing dramatic results using a combination of hyperconverged and composable infrastructure. Because they can now quickly adjust their compute, storage and fabric resources to meet rapidly changing needs, they can reduce re-provisioning time from four days to less than two hours. They’ve also increased their storage capacity and reduced their costs.

Embracing public cloud to better share research

HudsonAlpha’s digital transformation doesn’t stop at their datacenter walls -- it also includes public clouds. Due to concerns over privacy, security, and regulations, HudsonAlpha was at first reluctant to take the step to public cloud. Yet, things have started to change.

Although composable infrastructure gives them the flexibility to manage peaks and valleys and compose resources quickly, public cloud is another resource in their IT arsenal. For example, many of HudsonAlpha’s researchers have been given government provided grant money to test novel, new treatment theories. Because of these grants, they can quickly test creative ideas in a public cloud without taking resources away from the more accepted research methodologies that rely on their private cloud. According to HudsonAlpha, this type of shadow IT is absolutely essential for pushing the creative envelope of their research.

The next step: better hybrid IT control and management

Yet life in the era of hybrid IT is not quite as simple as it sounds. Using public cloud, private cloud and on-premises IT, HudsonAlpha needs a way to better share information as well as move applications from one IT model to another seamlessly. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) is currently working with them to overcome this challenge.

Earlier this year, HPE announced Project New Hybrid IT Stack, a technology preview that showed how organizations could seamlessly compose, operate, and optimize all workloads across on-premises, private, hosted, and public clouds. With a personalized dashboard based on different personas, it provides built-in business analytics and controls that allow IT operators and application developers to simply click or code resources and services across their entire hybrid infrastructure.

HudsonAlpha is currently testing this innovative technology that changes how all organizations use hybrid IT on and off premises. Using HPE Project New Hybrid IT Stack, businesses will be able to better manage a combination of resources using multiple cloud models. The solution will also radically change how organizations consume, compose, and analyze their workloads – wherever they are located. More information about this technology is coming shortly. 

Don’t let infrastructure hold you back

Genetics and genomics research is helping medical professionals better control healthcare costs and meet patient needs. And researchers and clinicians are using genomic sequencing to help physicians diagnose and treat disease when certain genomic information is available. Digital transformation is key to accelerating genomic research and achieving that goal. Organizations such as HudsonAlpha are successfully using hybrid IT solutions to move forward in their digital transformation.

HPE has assembled an array of resources that are helping businesses succeed in a hybrid IT world. Learn about HPE’s approach to managing hybrid IT by checking out the HPE website, Project New Hybrid IT Stack. Read more about hyperconverged and composable infrastructure through the e-books, Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Dummies and Composable Infrastructure for Dummies. And to find out how HPE can help you determine a workload placement strategy that meets your service level agreements, visit HPE Pointnext.


Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.