IT is expensive. Between hardware costs, salaries for IT professionals, software licenses, and more, it’s not uncommon for IT spending to account for 30% of an organization’s entire budget, according to IDC research. This is especially problematic for smaller organizations with less access to upfront capital or for industries that operate on thin profit margins.
That’s why businesses across the spectrum, including the life sciences industry, are migrating to the cloud. These services promise a “a reduction in the total cost of ownership by 50% or more,” explains Nirix. Since IT spending accounts for such a large portion of overall business spending, that quickly adds up to significant savings.
The Brookings Institute provides a definition: “Cloud computing refers to services, applications, and data storage delivered online through powerful file servers.” Essentially, this means that we can transfer IT systems to another company and access them from the internet.
In this article, we’re going to go through the Top 5 reasons why life sciences companies have already migrated more than one third of their IT infrastructure and application workloads to cloud services.
The first reason that cloud computing reduces IT costs is that it allows organizations of all sizes to reduce their physical IT infrastructure budgets. For decades, companies had to devote significant resources to purchasing expensive hardware, acquiring consulting services, and paying for skilled professionals to install and maintain it. Servers aren’t cheap.
While we cannot entirely eliminate private infrastructure, we can migrate portions of it onto the cloud. Life sciences companies often utilize cloud computing for data storage and analytic workloads.
Foremost, this cost reduction lowers barriers to entry. Implementing new IT systems used to require huge upfront costs and months of planning, acquisition, and setup. Nirix writes, “Cloud services require little or no entry cost making access and use of advanced technology extremely affordable, easy, and headache-free.”
Moreover, due to rapid technological developments, IT systems often become outdated within a manner of years—or even months. By using cloud service providers, organizations can outsource much of this burden.
There’s a lot more that goes into IT systems than buying hardware and installing software. We rely on skilled professionals to perform routine maintenance on IT systems. This includes applying patches, repairing broken devices, monitoring network security, and more.
Cloud computing solutions take care of these upkeep costs. Plus, they are often able to devote even more resources to doing so than other companies could. Microsoft Azure, for example, hires teams of network administrators, software engineers, and IT security professionals to maintain their cloud infrastructure. Though this simply isn’t feasible for other companies, they can take advantage of Microsoft’s resources by subscribing to their cloud platform.
On a final note, we shouldn’t forget the energy costs for maintaining data centers. We need to supply electricity to the servers and supporting infrastructure, and the HVAC systems that we need to keep them cool can also be expensive. Add that to the cost of physically securing data centers, and it’s easy to see how businesses can save money by migrating their data to the cloud.
Cloud solutions give organizations the option to use the exact right amount of computing resources that they need at any given moment. Cloud computing is flexible. If a company finds that it’s using less resources or going through a slow period, it can cut back and pay less.
The main benefit for life sciences companies, however, is cloud computing’s agility. “It offers companies the ability to scale up infrastructure, informatics and analytics capabilities on-demand rather than wait for large traditional IT deployments,” explains Joe Donahue, Managing Director of Accenture’s Research and Development Services. “It makes it possible for companies to move from idea, to experimentation, to large-scale deployment with unprecedented speed.”
Essentially, this ‘on-demand service’ model allows an organization’s IT systems to expand or contract in synch with the rest of their business. We no longer have to wait for our IT teams to conduct their due care and due diligence, go through a formal change-management process, procure new hardware, and spend time hardening and configuring it.
Cloud computing allows us to instantly achieve what used to take months to accomplish.
All of this leads to more efficient and effective operations. When leaders have the right data at the right time, they can make better decisions in a timelier manner. Foremost, since cloud data isn’t stored on a local device, we can access it from anywhere in the organization. This means we don’t have to spend as much time and money on travel.
It also enables us to streamline networking functions and helps decision makers to quickly develop strategy by providing a platform for big data analytics. Cloud computing gives us instant access to massive storage and processing power; we can use that to our advantage by performing analytics that we otherwise couldn’t access.
For instance, many cloud providers have AI tools that organizations can use to analyze data, find processes to make more efficient, and improve outcomes. These tools require immense resources to crunch data, so building and maintaining such strong infrastructure isn’t possible for most companies. Essentially, cloud computing lets us rent these resources for as long as we need in order to get the job done.
Life sciences and biotech companies certainly have a lot to gain from IT, but they are not IT companies at their core. IT serves in a supporting role to enable us to do what we do best: research and develop new life-changing drugs and medical equipment. Cloud implementation enables us to renew our focus on these innovations.
Instead of devoting resources to planning, building, and maintaining IT infrastructure, life sciences companies can redirect their attention to the laboratory. This is especially crucial for C-Suite executives, as IT programs entail overseeing even more projects.
We can reduce this oversight by letting the experts at the cloud handle it. In this way, we create a division of labor in which each organization focuses on what it does best. In the case of the life sciences, that’s devoting more time and energy to innovation.
These are only a few of the reasons that LabLog uses Microsoft Azure’s cloud ‘Platform as a Service (PaaS)’ for full-stack development and hosting. We use cloud services to create an advanced all-in-one Electronic Laboratory Notebook (ELN) solution for a fraction of the price of building and maintaining private infrastructure.
We pass these savings along to you, researchers in the life sciences, so that you can easily and affordably access world-class computing services. We go one step further by managing Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and client-host relationships with Microsoft. Moreover, we also ensure FDA Title 21 CFR Part 11 compliance through extensive third-party accreditation.
“Thanks to the cloud,” concludes Donahue from Accenture, “what was once laborious and expensive is now agile, faster and less expensive, and having a positive impact to both the organizations—and the patients they serve.” Ultimately, by providing a smarter lab notebook, we empower life sciences researchers to focus on what matters most.