Big Data Drives the IT Needs of Biotech Startups

Posted by Steven Vigeant on 5/14/13 5:42 PM

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One of the greatest challenges facing many biotech startups, particularly in their earliest phases, is planning for the potential massive quantities of data that are generated by modern lab technologies. Many startups are simply not prepared to manage data storage requirements that can quickly rise to over 10 terabytes. But preserving, securing, and managing this biotech big data is crucial to the success of your business.

In order to better prepare your IT infrastructure for the demands of today's cutting-edge technologies, consider taking the time to plan your storage needs over the first few years and to build a system that can scale with that potential growth.

Consider some of the potential data that may be generated in your lab and how it will be further processed and analyzed -- as well as where it will be stored for ease of access by your team. Some potential high impact data generators could raise the bar as to how much storage you need.

  • High resolution imaging has given scientists greater access to visual data than ever before. Companies throughout the biotech sector are using various forms of this technology to take an up-close look at things that were previously invisible. As revolutionary as high-resolution imaging technology is, it creates unique challenges for biotech companies that want to use it to its full potential. Each high resolution image can take up significant amounts of space on a hard drive. And when your company is taking hundreds, possibly even thousands of these images every day, you can quickly burn through your available storage space. 
  • Genome sequencing has become faster and cheaper, and a growing number of small biotech companies are integrating that technology into their laboratories. This is exciting for many reasons, but biotech companies have to prepare for the demands of dealing with the huge amounts of data produced every time a genome is sequenced. Many companies are frustrated to find out that they don't have the IT infrastructure to store, transmit, or analyze this data in the way they had anticipated. Companies that want to take advantage of the power of genome sequencing need to prepare for it from day one
  • Other lab devices are also churning out larger data sets, and your scientists want to be able to analyze that data back from their office desk, sometimes even offsite, rather than in the lab, so storing this data on local storage is not always the most efficient. 
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Biotech big data storage is just as important a concern as having a well-equipped lab and a team of qualified researchers. If you do not have adequate storage space, and a way to manage your storage as your needs change, you can quickly find that efficient workflows are not possible for your team and data can end up being dispursed in different locations.

As most modern day storage systems will have redundancy built into them that allows a failed piece of hardware, like a hard drive, to fail but not disruput the operation of the device, that is by no means a backup or mean that you don’t have to have a backup and disaster recovery plan in place. So part of the storage planning is also the backup and disaster recovery planning. As with storage, there are many ways and options to backup and protect this important data. This has to be part of your planning. 

Dealing with big data is not only a challenge; it can also be an opportunity for any biotech company that takes advantage of it. The more data you have stored and organized, the more you can analyze that data to identify trends and predict outcomes. Every scientist knows that the larger the sample size, the more dependable the experiment. The best way for up and coming biotech companies to seamlessly scale their IT infrastructure as their data needs grow, is to work with an IT managed service provider that has expertise in this sector. They understand the unique demands of biotech big data and how today's companies can benefit from it.

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Topics: IT Outsourcing, IT Support, Biotechnology Startup, Big Data


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