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!

PRACEdays Reflects Europe’s HPC Commitment

May 25, 2017

More than 250 attendees and participants came together for PRACEdays17 in Barcelona last week, part of the European HPC Summit Week 2017, held May 15-19 at t Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Russian Researchers Claim First Quantum-Safe Blockchain

May 25, 2017

The Russian Quantum Center today announced it has overcome the threat of quantum cryptography by creating the first quantum-safe blockchain, securing cryptocurr Read more…

By Doug Black

Google Debuts TPU v2 and will Add to Google Cloud

May 25, 2017

Not long after stirring attention in the deep learning/AI community by revealing the details of its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), Google last week announced the Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia CEO Predicts AI ‘Cambrian Explosion’

May 25, 2017

The processing power and cloud access to developer tools used to train machine-learning models are making artificial intelligence ubiquitous across computing pl Read more…

By George Leopold

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Exploring the Three Models of Remote Visualization

The explosion of data and advancement of digital technologies are dramatically changing the way many companies do business. With the help of high performance computing (HPC) solutions and data analytics platforms, manufacturers are developing products faster, healthcare providers are improving patient care, and energy companies are improving planning, exploration, and production. Read more…

PGAS Use will Rise on New H/W Trends, Says Reinders

May 25, 2017

If you have not already tried using PGAS, it is time to consider adding PGAS to the programming techniques you know. Partitioned Global Array Space, commonly kn Read more…

By James Reinders

Exascale Escapes 2018 Budget Axe; Rest of Science Suffers

May 23, 2017

President Trump's proposed $4.1 trillion FY 2018 budget is good for U.S. exascale computing development, but grim for the rest of science and technology spend Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Hedge Funds (with Supercomputing help) Rank First Among Investors

May 22, 2017

In case you didn’t know, The Quants Run Wall Street Now, or so says a headline in today’s Wall Street Journal. Quant-run hedge funds now control the largest Read more…

By John Russell

IBM, D-Wave Report Quantum Computing Advances

May 18, 2017

IBM said this week it has built and tested a pair of quantum computing processors, including a prototype of a commercial version. That progress follows an an Read more…

By George Leopold

PRACEdays Reflects Europe’s HPC Commitment

May 25, 2017

More than 250 attendees and participants came together for PRACEdays17 in Barcelona last week, part of the European HPC Summit Week 2017, held May 15-19 at t Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

PGAS Use will Rise on New H/W Trends, Says Reinders

May 25, 2017

If you have not already tried using PGAS, it is time to consider adding PGAS to the programming techniques you know. Partitioned Global Array Space, commonly kn Read more…

By James Reinders

Exascale Escapes 2018 Budget Axe; Rest of Science Suffers

May 23, 2017

President Trump's proposed $4.1 trillion FY 2018 budget is good for U.S. exascale computing development, but grim for the rest of science and technology spend Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray Offers Supercomputing as a Service, Targets Biotechs First

May 16, 2017

Leading supercomputer vendor Cray and datacenter/cloud provider the Markley Group today announced plans to jointly deliver supercomputing as a service. The init Read more…

By John Russell

HPE’s Memory-centric The Machine Coming into View, Opens ARMs to 3rd-party Developers

May 16, 2017

Announced three years ago, HPE’s The Machine is said to be the largest R&D program in the venerable company’s history, one that could be progressing tow Read more…

By Doug Black

What’s Up with Hyperion as It Transitions From IDC?

May 15, 2017

If you’re wondering what’s happening with Hyperion Research – formerly the IDC HPC group – apparently you are not alone, says Steve Conway, now senior V Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Launches Servers, Services, and Collaboration at GTC

May 10, 2017

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today launched a new liquid cooled GPU-driven Apollo platform based on SGI ICE architecture, a new collaboration with NVIDIA, a Read more…

By John Russell

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Just how close real-wo Read more…

By John Russell

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the cam Read more…

By John Russell

Google Pulls Back the Covers on Its First Machine Learning Chip

April 6, 2017

This week Google released a report detailing the design and performance characteristics of the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), its custom ASIC for the inference Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

Since our first formal product releases of OSPRay and OpenSWR libraries in 2016, CPU-based Software Defined Visualization (SDVis) has achieved wide-spread adopt Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Last week, Google reported that its custom ASIC Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) was 15-30x faster for inferencing workloads than Nvidia's K80 GPU (see our coverage Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

TSUBAME3.0 Points to Future HPE Pascal-NVLink-OPA Server

February 17, 2017

Since our initial coverage of the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer yesterday, more details have come to light on this innovative project. Of particular interest is a ne Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Facebook Open Sources Caffe2; Nvidia, Intel Rush to Optimize

April 18, 2017

From its F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif., today, Facebook announced Caffe2, a new open-source, cross-platform framework for deep learning. Caffe2 is Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tokyo Tech’s TSUBAME3.0 Will Be First HPE-SGI Super

February 16, 2017

In a press event Friday afternoon local time in Japan, Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) announced its plans for the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer, which w Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Is Liquid Cooling Ready to Go Mainstream?

February 13, 2017

Lost in the frenzy of SC16 was a substantial rise in the number of vendors showing server oriented liquid cooling technologies. Three decades ago liquid cooling Read more…

By Steve Campbell

MIT Mathematician Spins Up 220,000-Core Google Compute Cluster

April 21, 2017

On Thursday, Google announced that MIT math professor and computational number theorist Andrew V. Sutherland had set a record for the largest Google Compute Eng Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Supercomputing Leaders Tackle the China Question

March 15, 2017

As China continues to prove its supercomputing mettle via the Top500 list and the forward march of its ambitious plans to stand up an exascale machine by 2020, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Technique Propels Deep Learning at Scale

February 21, 2017

Researchers from Baidu's Silicon Valley AI Lab (SVAIL) have adapted a well-known HPC communication technique to boost the speed and scale of their neural networ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Wants to be “Red Hat” of Deep Learning

January 26, 2017

IBM today announced the addition of TensorFlow and Chainer deep learning frameworks to its PowerAI suite of deep learning tools, which already includes popular Read more…

By John Russell

DOE Supercomputer Achieves Record 45-Qubit Quantum Simulation

April 13, 2017

In order to simulate larger and larger quantum systems and usher in an age of "quantum supremacy," researchers are stretching the limits of today's most advance Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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