Why agronomists (also) host their research software in the cloud?
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. Research departments of seed companies, technical institutes, cooperatives and food industries conduct experiments on huge amounts of heterogeneous and sensible data. Researchers need to communicate closely with each other¹ and with their management². These organizations already use the Cloud for their strategical activities. What have they to win in hosting their research software in the cloud?
What means hosting agronomy research software in the cloud?
Research software with a client-server architecture are the most well-spread in plant research departments since they provide the best performances and are handy to administrate. Researchers still work on their own computer (client), but the 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.
In most R&D departments, an IT team handles research software and database running on internal servers, in a client-server architecture.
Many research departments have started moving their research 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. Then, researchers’ tools, processes and data, administration services are hosted in distant servers, and accessible via internet.
“ 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.
Ins and outs of hosting agronomy research software in the cloud
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 and security levels.Doriane’s experience of RnDExperience® plant research software installed on a private server shows a TCO³ (Total Cost of Ownership), including internal services, license cost and maintenance double of cloud architecture.✔ 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
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 plant research 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 proposes various research software installation alternatives and provides concerned stakeholders with solid TCO analysis from experience of customer organizations.” Fred Royer, CEO, Doriane SAS.
Top 3 reasons to host agronomy research 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.
¹ “Communication is the key…” read the full article on transversal research research information system
³ Doriane proposes various research software installation alternatives and provides concerned stakeholders with solid TCO analysis from experience of customer’s organizations. Click here for more information.