Move Collaboration to the Cloud

By Frank Brown  |  Posted 2010-01-22 Print this article Print

Move collaboration to the cloud

Cloud computing-whether inside or outside the firewall-offers great possibilities when it comes to enabling richer communication. The Web provides an ideal forum for project stakeholders to interact and share ideas, regardless of their location, their areas of specialization or the format of the information. When a browser is all that's needed to get a seat at the table, collaboration can once again play a key role in the discovery process.

But there are technical considerations that first need to be taken into account. Because the data involved in modern scientific research is so vast and complex, it doesn't make sense, nor is it really possible, to take legacy infrastructure (such as a large chemistry or biology data warehouse) that's cemented to the floor and move it to the cloud. There are just too many transactional systems wrapped around these data hubs to pull out the center of the onion.

At the same time, installing thick-client technologies at every site to transact on one or many data warehouses would introduce too much latency. Instead, organizations should focus on enabling the integration, shared access and reporting of project-centric data via a cloud-based project data mart. They should do this rather than isolating information within disciplinary silos (such as an ELN that only categorizes biological assays, for example). This requires a services-based information management platform capable of extracting the most relevant scientific intelligence from diverse systems and formats, and integrating it in the cloud to enable streamlined collaboration and decision making.

For example, suppose a pharmaceutical company is working with a Contract Research Organization (CRO) on a drug discovery project. Today, many scientific organizations actually install their legacy IT systems at the outsourcer's site in order to exchange and analyze data. Not only is this costly, it's also highly inefficient, as systems now need to be maintained both within the organization's internal IT infrastructure as well as at the CRO site.

And the redundancies multiply the more departments, locations and partners that are involved. With a cloud-based project, data mart and reporting sitting on top of a services-based architecture; critical information, workflows and transactions that need to be accessed by collaborators can be maintained globally, with a much lower seat cost and support burden.

Frank Brown, PhD, has served as Senior Vice President and Chief Science Officer for Accelrys since October 2006. Frank has extensive experience in the areas of computational chemistry and chemoinformatics. He is responsible for both the scientific direction of the company and all collaborative research with academic, government and industrial partners. Prior to joining Accelrys, Frank held positions of increasing responsibility at Johnson & Johnson, most recently as senior research fellow within the Office of the CIO. In this position, Frank oversaw the development of architecture for all R&D in the organization's pharma sector. Before Johnson & Johnson, Frank started the first chemoinformatics group in the industry at Glaxo Research Institute, and launched software products targeted to the pharmaceutical industry as vice president for product and business development at Oxford Molecular Group. Frank has also served as an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, School of Pharmacy, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has also served as a chair for the American Chemical Society (ACS), Computers in Chemistry section, and on an NIH Special Study. Frank holds a PhD in physical organic chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh and a post-doctoral studies degree in bio physics from the University of California at San Francisco. He can be reached at

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel