Agronomy trials involve huge amounts of data, and you want it always at hand for your daily tasks. All information is centralized in a "system" and you access it everyday with your agronomy software (or plant breeding software) to work with colleagues and communicate with your management.
And you wonder: Why more and more research departments host their agronomy software in the cloud?
You're at the right place, our experts with +30 years experience in agronomy software tell you the pros and cons of "cloud" and "on premise" hosting:
“Life scientists and their institutions no longer have to find millions of dollars to establish their own supercomputing center”
Wu Feng, Professor of Computer Science at Virginia Tech.
What is cloud hosting?
Simply speaking, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs hosted over the Internet by industrial provider instead of on owned computer's hard drive. Researchers still work on their own computer (client), but data and application tools are running on the core of the system, installed on servers, either locally in the company’s premises, or externally, hosted in a third-party data center. Both hostings are based on the same architecture (namely "client-server"). It's the most well-spread in agronomy research software since it provides the best performances and are handy to administrate.
In most R&D departments, an IT team handles research software and database running on internal servers. Many research departments have started moving their agronomy software in the cloud. Cloud architecture enables to transfer the management of server hardware and system software to specialized providers, and to pay IT only for the requested resources.
“We don’t bother with server issues and software updates: the system is always ready with the latest features”
Joris, South area manager, about Heliantis variety testing software hosted by Doriane in the cloud.
Agronomy software on premise: ins and outs
Managing research software on premise (private cloud or servers) is still the most popular among agronomy research departments: Since the configuration is done in-house, it requires strong internal skills to ensure the best performance, secure and valorize agronomy information.
Doriane’s experience of RnDExperience® plant research software installed on a private server shows twice the TCO³ (Total Cost of Ownership) compared to cloud architecture, including internal services, license cost and maintenance.
✔ Full control kept on the installation, no need to rely on a third-party provider.
✔ Highly customizable, allow non-standard configuration.
✘ Requires an IT technician on site to configure and maintain the server, notably for backups, security updates.
✘ Non-repetitive and non-scalable, physical crash risk that increases with the server’s age (hard drives, electronic boards). It is usually necessary to change the server every 3 to 5 years.
✘ More expensive.
Why host your agronomy software in the cloud ?
External cloud is based on virtualization and automation technologies. All its resources (RAM, CRU, disks) are distributed on several physical machines. The system is managed by a supervisor enabling on-demand resources scalability.
Doriane’s experience regrading installation of the agronomy software RnDExperience® on an external server shows a TCO (per year per user) half of traditional architecture.
✔ Repetitive and scalable, potentially infinite lifetime and always up-to-date.
✔ Better performances and high scalability of the CPU, memory and RAM.
✔ Less expensive and less investment needed to start.
✘ Requires an IT technician to remotely configure and maintain the server.
✘ Depends on a server provider for security and availability.
“Doriane has deployed the turnkey breeding platform in 7 days including users remote training”
Eric Carrara, Scientific Consultant, RAGT about RnDExp cloud breeding software set up for a new team in Brazil who has joined the group in 2019.
5 reasons to host your agronomy software in the cloud
The choice between on-premise (internal) servers and a cloud hosting depends, on one hand on the TCO analysis by the research department, on the other hand on the vision of shareholders on speed of integration of new technologies for their organization.
Here are some criteria that may help you determine which solution would be the best choice for your department:
- Speed: starting cloud architecture is question of days where starting on premise is question of weeks.
- Risk management: confidentiality and security are managed by teams dedicated, certified and continuously updated on recent technologies and risks.
- Scalability: With cloud hosting the server can adapt to the evolution of the department (more users, big data) and even to occasional demand (seasonal needs).
- Cost: Cloud configuration is less expensive and requires less investment.
- IT needs: The cloud configuration enables to get rid of most IT server concerns since all is configured and maintained by a provider.
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