PacBio reaches for cloud tech amid biz slump

Pacific Biosciences ($PACB) wants to offer users of its sequencing machine new cloud computing capabilities amid struggles to hit sales targets for its cutting edge system for quickly and cheaply decoding DNA.

The Menlo Park, CA-based firm said that it has joined forces with Cycle Computing to work on improving the performance of its PacBio RS SMRT Analysis software for the cloud. Aiming to simplify required computing infrastructure for users of PacBio's sequencing systems, the cloud-based software "supports a workflow that includes sample preparation, sequencing and completed data analysis in less than one day," the company said in a release. PacBio expects to have a beta version of the cloud software ready for an upgrade of its system planned for late this year.

"Analysis of long, single molecule, real-time sequencing reads from unamplified samples without the need to maintain complex and expensive hardware and software will offer customers more flexibility to realize the potential of the PacBio RS," Edwin Hauw, PacBio's director of software product management, said in a statement. "By leveraging Cycle Computing's expertise in building scalable, high performance cloud computing applications our goal is to provide the best balance of performance and convenience for customers."

Cycle Computing--which has aided drugmakers such as Genentech with moving heavy computing workloads onto cloud platforms--joins a list of software developers (CLC bio, Geospiza and BioTeam, among them) that are partnering with PacBio to provide applications that support its sequencing system.

PacBio, falling short of sales expectations, revealed last week that it is chopping 130 jobs or 28% of its workforce from its payroll to rein in spending. With the new cloud computing capabilities for its next system upgrade, the company appears to be trying to give labs every reason to adopt its sequencing machines.

- here's the release