Expert Insight: Discover the benefits of adopting cloud-based solutions

Watch this on-demand webinar to learn how the adoption of cloud-based solutions is influencing the industry, with real-world examples

28 Sep 2021

James Pena, Product Manager, Digital Science, Thermo Fisher Scientific

The adoption of cloud-based solutions continues to grow in laboratories across all scientific industries. Organizations are considering the many advantages of adopting cloud-based solutions, such as financial and operational benefits, all of which support driving laboratory productivity upwards. 

For new laboratories implementing a solution for the first time, cloud can provide a quick road to go-live with low capital expenditure and minimal resources to run and manage the system. For existing laboratories looking to modernize their infrastructure, the benefits are seen through lowered IT costs and unmatched scalability. Having data easily accessible, but more securely protected, allows for an increase in collaboration and productivity across teams and locations. The benefits of a cloud-first approach can ultimately support laboratories by providing them with enhanced security, scalability, access, and performance.

In this on-demand SelectScience® webinar, cloud expert James Pena, Thermo Fisher Scientific, discusses how the adoption of cloud-based solutions is influencing the industry, the major benefits of a cloud infrastructure and strategies for customer or vendor-managed cloud deployments. This webinar is the second of our 10-part webinar series, The Orchestrated Lab, being run in partnership with Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Read on for the live Q&A session or register to watch the webinar at a time that suits you. 

Q: What are the main components to consider before deciding to transition to a cloud model, and how can I decide which cloud-based adoption strategy is best for my organization?

JP: The main components are compliance and control, and those are the foundations. Additionally, in my opinion, it's your organization as a roadmap. Any implementation, whether it's in the cloud or on-prem, is a huge undertaking. Making sure that you have a good future mindset when you undertake that effort is important. It'd be a shame to go through all the effort and to not solve for any future problems.

In the short term, if you're looking for a point solution where you’re solving a very specific problem or you're just dipping your toes in the metaphorical cloud then Software as a service (SaaS) is the way to go. It's a confined, safe, and quick cloud implementation. 

However, if you are looking to go down an integrated or customized route, such as managed services, there you get support from the application vendor, manufacturer, and cloud provider. That helps ease the effort and the technical proficiencies. Alternatively, if you're confident you can go directly to the cloud provider and start exploring clouds like Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or Platform as a service (PaaS).

I want to make sure that people are aware to avoid key pitfalls in cloud deployment that I've observed in on-prem. On-prems have been going on for decades, and there's a lot of time, effort, and complexity built into those environments, and they remain untouched for 20 years or so. There's a lot of technical debt built out into them because you're solving for an immediate solution. It becomes cumbersome to try to adapt and grow. Therefore, beyond compliance and control, the roadmap is the next key piece for how you intend to proceed in your cloud or digital transformation. It should be parallel to your business roadmap.

Q: How do you see cloud adoption and cloud strategies playing a role in digital transformation and the Lab of the Future?

JP: The Lab of the Future, it invokes these pictures of interconnectivity, a very integrated and automated laboratory. We’re very much moving in that direction. The ultimate goal of the Lab of the Future is to have a single pane for the scientist to be able to look at their data in integrated, collated, and interestingly visualized ways. That way a scientist can spend their time focusing on coming up with their latest insights, or diagnosing their system, or making sure that their production in the laboratory is on track. That is 100% facilitated by technologies like cloud. 

Getting data from individual scientists if they have mobile devices or tablets, wherever they might be, from the instruments themselves, from out in the field, bringing that into one place is something that can be facilitated with cloud. It can be accessed from anything with any type of network connectivity. The Lab of the Future doesn't exist within one room. It’s for the organization and for any other partners or collaborators across geographies, across everything. The Lab of the Future is very dependent on cloud. 

Q: What is the implementation timeline for a Thermo Fisher cloud-hosted model?

JP: That can vary, and it depends on two factors, the first factor being how much customization and configuration will you need. That’s usually relatively quick because it’s integral to how the application has been created. That’s usually a month to two months depending on the system. 

Once you get outside of the application and you start talking about integrations, whether it be with systems, instruments, or services such as other cloud services, then you start adding to the timeline but for much added benefit. Having a customized, automated, integrated system is valuable, but in terms of configuring and testing it will take longer. You have to create very specific and catered validation scripts to make sure that everything works correctly. I've seen the most complex ones get up into the eight-month timeframe. 

Q: What happens if a virus-infected system synchronizes files to cloud storage? Will it affect the systems connected to the same cloud storage?

JP: I don't think anybody can claim that no cloud is 100% without risk. However, I would say your vulnerability is dependent on your specific use case. If you are simply syncing your files to cloud storage, using cloud as a data backup or data redundancy, you're probably more vulnerable. 

In personal use or on-prem use, you have your own security systems and security applications. However, in the cloud, you have the benefit of a massive organization that is more vested and interested in keeping their cloud safe than you are. There are hundreds of incredibly motivated, smart people working to make sure that their cloud is safe. Major cloud providers have very sophisticated virus protection software.

Once you move into more complex integrations with the cloud, where you're actually moving the compute components into the cloud, you actually benefit from a safer type of environment, due to the cloud receiving raw data feeds in doing the computation within the cloud. So, there are some inherent benefits in terms of safety and security when you're moving compute outside of your on-prem and into a very secure cloud.

Q: Can you talk more about the multi-cloud deployments strategies and what the benefits would be to an organization?

JP: With the multi-cloud, the value is freedom and flexibility. A huge shift in power occurred from the service provider to the customer. It’s now the customer dictating what cloud providers do, they are working diligently trying to differentiate amongst themselves, creating value for the customer. 

A lot of benefits are coming out of this where there are new partnerships popping up between cloud providers and industry-specific organizations that are translating into new services and automation, in terms of analysis and data transformations. They're looking at industry verticals a lot more than in the past. Being able to pick and choose services that are needed for your specific organization is not just restricted to one cloud provider. There's a lot of customer power in the cloud market. 

Q: If an organization decides to transition to a cloud system, what happens to their existing IT system?

JP: I have not seen any cloud providers take in trade-in value for hardware. That’s mainly because they have their own robust supply chains, especially large organizations. Indirectly, you can sell off hardware to offset costs. Hardware aside, in most cases, I've seen licenses or the IP are transferable. 

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