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 http://www.oracle.com/us/industries/life-sciences/oracle-health-sciences-cloud-wp-367168.pdf

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!

RSC Reports 500Tflops, Hot Water Cooled System Deployed at JINR

April 18, 2018

RSC, developer of supercomputers and advanced HPC systems based in Russia, today reported deployment of “the world's first 100% ‘hot water’ liquid cooled supercomputer” at Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JI Read more…

By Staff

New Device Spots Quantum Particle ‘Fingerprint’

April 18, 2018

Majorana particles have been observed by university researchers employing a device consisting of layers of magnetic insulators on a superconducting material. The advance opens the door to controlling the elusive particle Read more…

By George Leopold

Cray Rolls Out AMD-Based CS500; More to Follow?

April 18, 2018

Cray was the latest OEM to bring AMD back into the fold with introduction today of a CS500 option based on AMD’s Epyc processor line. The move follows Cray’s introduction of an ARM-based system (XC-50) last November. Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPC and AI Convergence is Accelerating New Levels of Intelligence

Data analytics is the most valuable tool in the digital marketplace – so much so that organizations are employing high performance computing (HPC) capabilities to rapidly collect, share, and analyze endless streams of data. Read more…

Hennessy & Patterson: A New Golden Age for Computer Architecture

April 17, 2018

On Monday June 4, 2018, 2017 A.M. Turing Award Winners John L. Hennessy and David A. Patterson will deliver the Turing Lecture at the 45th International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA) in Los Angeles. The Read more…

By Staff

Cray Rolls Out AMD-Based CS500; More to Follow?

April 18, 2018

Cray was the latest OEM to bring AMD back into the fold with introduction today of a CS500 option based on AMD’s Epyc processor line. The move follows Cray’ Read more…

By John Russell

IBM: Software Ecosystem for OpenPOWER is Ready for Prime Time

April 16, 2018

With key pieces of the IBM/OpenPOWER versus Intel/x86 gambit settling into place – e.g., the arrival of Power9 chips and Power9-based systems, hyperscaler sup Read more…

By John Russell

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cloud-Readiness and Looking Beyond Application Scaling

April 11, 2018

There are two aspects to consider when determining if an application is suitable for running in the cloud. The first, which we will discuss here under the title Read more…

By Chris Downing

Transitioning from Big Data to Discovery: Data Management as a Keystone Analytics Strategy

April 9, 2018

The past 10-15 years has seen a stark rise in the density, size, and diversity of scientific data being generated in every scientific discipline in the world. Key among the sciences has been the explosion of laboratory technologies that generate large amounts of data in life-sciences and healthcare research. Large amounts of data are now being stored in very large storage name spaces, with little to no organization and a general unease about how to approach analyzing it. Read more…

By Ari Berman, BioTeam, Inc.

IBM Expands Quantum Computing Network

April 5, 2018

IBM is positioning itself as a first mover in establishing the era of commercial quantum computing. The company believes in order for quantum to work, taming qu Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

FY18 Budget & CORAL-2 – Exascale USA Continues to Move Ahead

April 2, 2018

It was not pretty. However, despite some twists and turns, the federal government’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget is complete and ended with some very positi Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Nvidia Ups Hardware Game with 16-GPU DGX-2 Server and 18-Port NVSwitch

March 27, 2018

Nvidia unveiled a raft of new products from its annual technology conference in San Jose today, and despite not offering up a new chip architecture, there were still a few surprises in store for HPC hardware aficionados. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Inventor Claims to Have Solved Floating Point Error Problem

January 17, 2018

"The decades-old floating point error problem has been solved," proclaims a press release from inventor Alan Jorgensen. The computer scientist has filed for and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How the Cloud Is Falling Short for HPC

March 15, 2018

The last couple of years have seen cloud computing gradually build some legitimacy within the HPC world, but still the HPC industry lies far behind enterprise I Read more…

By Chris Downing

Fast Forward: Five HPC Predictions for 2018

December 21, 2017

What’s on your list of high (and low) lights for 2017? Volta 100’s arrival on the heels of the P100? Appearance, albeit late in the year, of IBM’s Power9? Read more…

By John Russell

Chip Flaws ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Loom Large

January 4, 2018

The HPC and wider tech community have been abuzz this week over the discovery of critical design flaws that impact virtually all contemporary microprocessors. T Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How Meltdown and Spectre Patches Will Affect HPC Workloads

January 10, 2018

There have been claims that the fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, named the KPTI (aka KAISER) patches, are going to affect applicatio Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

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

Leading Solution Providers

Deep Learning at 15 PFlops Enables Training for Extreme Weather Identification at Scale

March 19, 2018

Petaflop per second deep learning training performance on the NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center) Cori supercomputer has given climate Read more…

By Rob Farber

Lenovo Unveils Warm Water Cooled ThinkSystem SD650 in Rampup to LRZ Install

February 22, 2018

This week Lenovo took the wraps off the ThinkSystem SD650 high-density server with third-generation direct water cooling technology developed in tandem with par Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AI Cloud Competition Heats Up: Google’s TPUs, Amazon Building AI Chip

February 12, 2018

Competition in the white hot AI (and public cloud) market pits Google against Amazon this week, with Google offering AI hardware on its cloud platform intended Read more…

By Doug Black

HPC and AI – Two Communities Same Future

January 25, 2018

According to Al Gara (Intel Fellow, Data Center Group), high performance computing and artificial intelligence will increasingly intertwine as we transition to Read more…

By Rob Farber

New Blueprint for Converging HPC, Big Data

January 18, 2018

After five annual workshops on Big Data and Extreme-Scale Computing (BDEC), a group of international HPC heavyweights including Jack Dongarra (University of Te Read more…

By John Russell

Google Chases Quantum Supremacy with 72-Qubit Processor

March 7, 2018

Google pulled ahead of the pack this week in the race toward "quantum supremacy," with the introduction of a new 72-qubit quantum processor called Bristlecone. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Momentum Builds for US Exascale

January 9, 2018

2018 looks to be a great year for the U.S. exascale program. The last several months of 2017 revealed a number of important developments that help put the U.S. Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This