News Feature | February 7, 2017

Collaboration Helps Solve Complex Genomics Challenges

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

“Working Hard Or Hardly Networked” Examines Why Most UC And Collaboration Tools Fail

TGen had built a high-performance computing environment and needed a solution to their data overload problem.

When non-profit biomedical research organization Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) was faced with the challenge of managing its rapidly growing data stores, it turned to data services solutions for containers provider Portworx for assistance.

A common problem in healthcare is the sheer volume of data in motion across thousands of patients on a daily basis. Just a single sequence of one patient’s data can create as much as six terabytes of data, and patients are often sequenced multiple times. TGen currently has more than five petabytes of data and growing, which must be moved and extracted quickly for patient treatments. Additional data is required to meet compliance and regulatory requirements. Data from clinical samples must be archived for at least seven years, and as long as 25.

TGen CIO James Lowey and his team began experimenting with containers in 2015 when the technology was emerging in an effort to find a cost-effective solution to their data services challenges. Portworx offered a solution allowing TGen to transcend portability of containerized applications by offering portability of data.

“If we just run containers by themselves, there are benefits in regards to our systems architecture, and there are benefits if we want to do a rapid deployment across a variety of platforms,” Lowey says. “But we’d still be stuck with the problem of data movement and the data velocity behind it. That’s the problem Portworx solves.”

Using Portworx, TGen staff has been able to develop regimens to create repeatable treatment experiences while also facilitating the quick retrieval of data stored up to 25 years ago, as well as increase scalability while reducing storage costs by 50 percent or more.

“We’ve deployed Portworx on blade servers, on micro-blade servers, and on standard ‘pizza box’ servers,” Lowey said. “We’ve used it on iSCSI servers. We’ve done multiple iterations and different configurations. Portworx is one of the first truly new technologies that I’ve seen that could be a true game changer for how we handle many of our workloads,” Lowey said. “As genomics is applied directly to patient care, we need technologies that will drive results.”