Oracle’s Vertical Line to Life Sciences, Healthcare

By Nicole Hemsoth

May 3, 2011

Oracle is finding a way to carve out a space in the overgrown cloud ecosystem by focusing on the needs of healthcare and the life sciences. While there are already a number of companies that have targeted these two lucrative markets (yet complex in terms of regulation, stringent privacy mandates, etc.) they claim that their vertical approach to cloud computing will serve this area particularly well.

In essence, the newest addition to Oracle’s cloud push is focused on compliance and the coming merger between healthcare and health research. Clinical and pharmaceutical research, healthcare analysis and delivery, medical center operations—even management of outside contractors—all of these are to be unified in one HIPPA-hip package.

Oracle describes its Health Sciences Cloud (OHSC) as a “vertical cloud serving the research needs of the healthcare and life sciences industries that is open to the public Internet for global access by thousands of sites in different organizations, with data and integrations flowing in and out—yet it is still highly secure and private.”

Sounds like quite a tall order, doesn’t it?…Having thousands of end points, several types of applications with varying demands, and many more thousands of end users–while remaining “private.”

Before we ask questions about “how” this happens, the “what” behind the OHSC is worth mentioning—specifically the term “vertical cloud.” Yes, another variation on IaaS or PaaS—just when it seemed like companies were cooling on the idea of putting any number of adjectives in front of the word cloud…

The vertical cloud concept refers simply to a market or industry that can be served via infrastructure that provides operational support through a network of automated services. This stands in contrast to a horizontal cloud, which is what we discuss most often (Amazon’s EC2 or Azure, for instance). Basically, when you use an IaaS or PaaS provider, you’re going in expecting that service to cater to a broad range of users with vastly different applications, usage patterns, etc.. For this reason it’s flexible; send out an API call, set up your vm and storage environments and you’re off.

A spokesperson for Oracle said that when combined with their Health Sciences Cloud Apps, “the Health Sciences Cloud will help health sciences organizations accelerate IT deployments, reduce resources required to maintain IT infrastructure and gain a predictable IT spending pattern.” Again, all of this merging creates a complicated situation on levels far beyond simple  IT or cost management, but this is one focused push that might find a willing ear.

Oracle sees nothing wrong with the one-size-fits-all model for the ordinary folk without mounting compliance headaches, but insists that healthcare and life sciences requires something far more tailored. And they are quite likely right—after all, provisioning an application then shutting it down is one thing when you’re testing a consumer-driven creation on EC2, for instance. However, throw in a little legally restricted material (DNA, patient information, and even sensitive drug discovery data) and the situation is far more complicated. Can you do all of your regulatory-heavy work on EC2? Yes—but you’re asking for trouble, at least according to Oracle.

They point to an example of how clinical research in the life sciences is guided by a wide range of IT policies, including validation measures for installation qualifications. Users of any service, cloud or otherwise, need to make sure they have all components and software properly up to date, follow set system parameters, have a defined set of file structures, directories and databases, not to mention extensive setup of security profiles.

Oracle claims that their vertical cloud service will take all of these variables into account, factoring in requirements across a wide range of regulation sources. Interestingly, they note that since users will need to conform to an Installation Qualification, some of their freedom to stealthily ignore regulations will be removed.

The line between vertical and horizontal clouds becomes a little clearer when you think about this layer of required conformity to standards. That’s something a general provider could never offer, after all. Furthermore, Oracle claims that this setup will tackle this vertical’s needs by “exploiting an underlying cloud-oriented platform or infrastructure services, thereby enjoying the benefits of a horizontal cloud—resource pooling, elasticity, broad network access, managed services, etc.” In other words, by handling everything from initial qualification then automation, monitoring, recording, and other activities, life sciences researchers and companies can be freed from some major hassles—even if they have to lose the freedom to ignore mandates.

The problem with “regular” clouds is that they’re designed to have more or less a “one size fits all” model—and that’s a great thing…just not for this market. Oracle is thus pitching both infrastructure and platform as a service together in a way that caters to a focused range of applications—all running on a super-secure set of SAS70 Type II compliant machines in Tier III data center facilities. They are setting forth SLAs that are comparable to other managed hosting services, including 99.9% uptime and availability, secure networks that are geographically optimized for the latency-conscious, and a bevy of other assurances that there is an army of security buffs behind the IT operations.

It probably comes as no surprise either, by the way, that the systems are making use of Oracle software and hardware. The company reports that their infrastructure includes their Fusion Middleware, Exadata Database Machine, and their Sun-made ZFS Storage Appliance.

To back up for a moment though–even if the notion of a vertical cloud isn’t striking in itself (since after all, like so many cloud stories it’s all just managed services for a target market) Oracle’s reasoning behind approaching life sciences research and healthcare is compelling. In addition to rapid improvements in biomedical data gathering and constantly shifting legislation that makes dealing with such data constant juggling act, they note that there is a growing convergence that’s blending life sciences and healthcare into a cocktail called ‘personalized medicine.’

There’s a lot of talk about this new way of thinking about the merger between research and individual medicine and Oracle certainly wants to board the ship while it’s still docked. The other event on the horizon is easy to see: increasing complication of the entire merged ecosystem—what happens when you mesh two formerly disparate fields?

Their message must be hitting home since the release of the cloud apps. The OHSC has a reported 3,800 application instances supporting hundreds of thousands of users and millions of transactions daily in over 100 countries.

More here

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Long Flights to Cluster Fights: Meet the Asian Student Cluster Teams

November 22, 2017

Five teams from Asia traveled thousands of miles to compete at the SC17 Student Cluster Competition in Denver. Our cameras were there to meet ‘em, greet ‘em, and grill ‘em about their clusters and how they’re doi Read more…

By Dan Olds

Japan Unveils Quantum Neural Network

November 22, 2017

The U.S. and China are leading the race toward productive quantum computing, but it's early enough that ultimate leadership is still something of an open question. The latest geo-region to throw its hat in the quantum co Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC thinking of booth visitors. Attendees of tutorials, workshop Read more…

By Andrew Jones

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE Wins “Best HPC Server” for the Apollo 6000 Gen10 System

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) was nominated for 14 HPCwire Readers’ and Editors’ Choice Awards—including “Best High Performance Computing (HPC) Server Product or Technology” and “Top Supercomputing Achievement.” The HPE Apollo 6000 Gen10 was named “Best HPC Server” of 2017. Read more…

Turnaround Complete, HPE’s Whitman Departs

November 22, 2017

Having turned around the aircraft carrier the Silicon Valley icon had become, Meg Whitman is leaving the helm of a restructured Hewlett Packard. Her successor, technologist Antonio Neri will now guide what Whitman assert Read more…

By George Leopold

Long Flights to Cluster Fights: Meet the Asian Student Cluster Teams

November 22, 2017

Five teams from Asia traveled thousands of miles to compete at the SC17 Student Cluster Competition in Denver. Our cameras were there to meet ‘em, greet ‘em Read more…

By Dan Olds

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC Read more…

By Andrew Jones

SC Bids Farewell to Denver, Heads to Dallas for 30th Anniversary

November 17, 2017

After a jam-packed four-day expo and intensive six-day technical program, SC17 has wrapped up another successful event that brought together nearly 13,000 visit Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SC17 Keynote – HPC Powers SKA Efforts to Peer Deep into the Cosmos

November 17, 2017

This week’s SC17 keynote – Life, the Universe and Computing: The Story of the SKA Telescope – was a powerful pitch for the potential of Big Science projects that also showcased the foundational role of high performance computing in modern science. It was also visually stunning. Read more…

By John Russell

How Cities Use HPC at the Edge to Get Smarter

November 17, 2017

Cities are sensoring up, collecting vast troves of data that they’re running through predictive models and using the insights to solve problems that, in some Read more…

By Doug Black

Student Cluster LINPACK Record Shattered! More LINs Packed Than Ever before!

November 16, 2017

Nanyang Technological University, the pride of Singapore, utterly destroyed the Student Cluster Competition LINPACK record by posting a score of 51.77 TFlop/s a Read more…

By Dan Olds

Hyperion Market Update: ‘Decent’ Growth Led by HPE; AI Transparency a Risk Issue

November 15, 2017

The HPC market update from Hyperion Research (formerly IDC) at the annual SC conference is a business and social “must,” and this year’s presentation at S Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia Focuses Its Cloud Containers on HPC Applications

November 14, 2017

Having migrated its top-of-the-line datacenter GPU to the largest cloud vendors, Nvidia is touting its Volta architecture for a range of scientific computing ta Read more…

By George Leopold

US Coalesces Plans for First Exascale Supercomputer: Aurora in 2021

September 27, 2017

At the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) meeting, in Arlington, Va., yesterday (Sept. 26), it was revealed that the "Aurora" supercompute Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

NERSC Scales Scientific Deep Learning to 15 Petaflops

August 28, 2017

A collaborative effort between Intel, NERSC and Stanford has delivered the first 15-petaflops deep learning software running on HPC platforms and is, according Read more…

By Rob Farber

Oracle Layoffs Reportedly Hit SPARC and Solaris Hard

September 7, 2017

Oracle’s latest layoffs have many wondering if this is the end of the line for the SPARC processor and Solaris OS development. As reported by multiple sources Read more…

By John Russell

AMD Showcases Growing Portfolio of EPYC and Radeon-based Systems at SC17

November 13, 2017

AMD’s charge back into HPC and the datacenter is on full display at SC17. Having launched the EPYC processor line in June along with its MI25 GPU the focus he Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Releases Deeplearn.js to Further Democratize Machine Learning

August 17, 2017

Spreading the use of machine learning tools is one of the goals of Google’s PAIR (People + AI Research) initiative, which was introduced in early July. Last w Read more…

By John Russell

GlobalFoundries Puts Wind in AMD’s Sails with 12nm FinFET

September 24, 2017

From its annual tech conference last week (Sept. 20), where GlobalFoundries welcomed more than 600 semiconductor professionals (reaching the Santa Clara venue Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Amazon Debuts New AMD-based GPU Instances for Graphics Acceleration

September 12, 2017

Last week Amazon Web Services (AWS) streaming service, AppStream 2.0, introduced a new GPU instance called Graphics Design intended to accelerate graphics. The Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

SC17 Booth Video Tours

EU Funds 20 Million Euro ARM+FPGA Exascale Project

September 7, 2017

At the Barcelona Supercomputer Centre on Wednesday (Sept. 6), 16 partners gathered to launch the EuroEXA project, which invests €20 million over three-and-a-half years into exascale-focused research and development. Led by the Horizon 2020 program, EuroEXA picks up the banner of a triad of partner projects — ExaNeSt, EcoScale and ExaNoDe — building on their work... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Delays, Smoke, Records & Markets – A Candid Conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro

October 5, 2017

Earlier this month, Tom Tabor, publisher of HPCwire and I had a very personal conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro. Cray has been on something of a Cinderell Read more…

By Tiffany Trader & Tom Tabor

Cray Moves to Acquire the Seagate ClusterStor Line

July 28, 2017

This week Cray announced that it is picking up Seagate's ClusterStor HPC storage array business for an undisclosed sum. "In short we're effectively transitioning the bulk of the ClusterStor product line to Cray," said CEO Peter Ungaro. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Reinders: “AVX-512 May Be a Hidden Gem” in Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

June 29, 2017

Imagine if we could use vector processing on something other than just floating point problems.  Today, GPUs and CPUs work tirelessly to accelerate algorithms Read more…

By James Reinders

Intel Launches Software Tools to Ease FPGA Programming

September 5, 2017

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) have a reputation for being difficult to program, requiring expertise in specialty languages, like Verilog or VHDL. Easin Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Chips – A Veritable Smorgasbord?

October 10, 2017

For the first time since AMD's ill-fated launch of Bulldozer the answer to the question, 'Which CPU will be in my next HPC system?' doesn't have to be 'Whichever variety of Intel Xeon E5 they are selling when we procure'. Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

Flipping the Flops and Reading the Top500 Tea Leaves

November 13, 2017

The 50th edition of the Top500 list, the biannual publication of the world’s fastest supercomputers based on public Linpack benchmarking results, was released Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Advances Web-based Quantum Programming

September 5, 2017

IBM Research is pairing its Jupyter-based Data Science Experience notebook environment with its cloud-based quantum computer, IBM Q, in hopes of encouraging a new class of entrepreneurial user to solve intractable problems that even exceed the capabilities of the best AI systems. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Share This