Today's high-tech laboratory experiments can produce astonishing amounts of data. Some biotechnology startups have to deal with the challenge of trying to manage over a petabyte of information. To put that into context, a single petabyte is equivalent to 125,000 8GB iPhones. But even trying to store, backup, and manage tens of terabytes of data is a problem for many small biotech companies.
The average IT network is not equipped to deal with the massive data storage demands of a biotechnology startup. That is why “big data” is such a hot topic in the biotech community right now. Companies of all sizes, running a wide variety of experiments, are struggling to make the most out of the explosion of information that is coming out of their labs. In order to avoid common pitfalls, keep the following concerns in mind when you are first setting up your IT infrastructure.
Even some of the smallest biotech startups are producing huge amounts of data. High throughput lab systems, high resolution imaging, and expansive clinical trials are just a few of the sources of this data. Regardless of where it is coming from, your laboratory has to be equipped to store it.
The most advanced computers and largest external hard drives do not have the storage space necessary to accommodate tens of thousands of gigabytes of information. But if you do not have the capacity to store this data, there is no way for your company to effectively use it—and your company relies on the availability of its data to create value.
The combination of local storage and cloud storage also called “Hybrid Cloud” are allowing biotech companies to extend their local high speed storage to the cloud for longer term retention at a lower cost than on-site local storage. Rapidly advancing cloud storage solutions make it easy and affordable for any biotechnology startup to store near-limitless amounts of data.. Using this hybrid cloud model offers many advantages, including high speed access to the most recent and working sets of data, automatic backup, remotes access, and easy scalability. Plus, you don't have to worry about having the resources necessary to store all of your data on-site. Your IT service provider can help you set up a hybrid cloud storage system that is tailored specifically to your company’s needs.
Storing and protecting your biotech startup’s data should be your first concern, but securing it has to be your second. That data has no value, and may even be hurting your company, if it is vulnerable to outside attacks or unauthorized access. The exposure your company gets , the more valuable it can become to hackers from anywhere in the world. Similarly, the more data you produce, the more vulnerable it will be to accidental deletion or an infection by a virus, either accidentally or intentionally. Big data presents biotechnology startups with many opportunities, but it creates challenges as well.
If you work with an outsourced IT provider that understands the nature of big data, the provider’s experts can help you to create a secure system from your first day in business and ramp up your security capabilities as your company grows. It is easy to think that the security measures you have in place provide adequate protection, but this could be a critical oversight. As your IT service provider increases your storage capacity, make sure it also addresses the strength of your data security.
Biotech startups that understand the unique challenges of big data are able to avoid costly setbacks and maximize the value of their experiments. Being realistic, prepared, and in regular contact with your IT service provider is your best strategy.
To learn more about how biotech startups are preparing for the present and future of big data, read our white paper “After the Seed: Planning IT Investment for a Biotech Startup.”