Illumina seeks cut of bioinformatics biz with cloud system

As promised, Illumina ($ILMN) has hit the market with a cloud computing system for genomics data, building off its leadership in DNA sequencing to grab a piece of the growing bioinformatics side of the genomics game. And the San Diego-based company wants to make the decision to use to its BaseSpace computing product an easy one: Customers get 1 terabyte of free storage and variant analysis and sequence alignment for all data from the company's sequencers at no cost.

Computer science has grown in importance to understanding decoded genomes. Illumina has helped drive down the cost of decoding the 3 billion bases of human DNA, rapidly closing in on $1,000 per genome, putting the technology within reach for hospitals and labs that might not have bothered 5 years or so ago when that price tag was in the millions. But labs can spend many times more than the cost of sequencing a genome to interpret the huge amounts of information from decoding DNA, with powerful computers and software analytics consuming much of that additional cost. BaseSpace also puts the data in the cloud, enabling people in different locations to share the information more easily than shipping it from one place to another.

With Illumina's BaseSpace, the genomics company has found a new way to gain revenue from the interpretation of genomes. Its new service, which the company made known publicly in April, runs on cloud computing infrastructure from tech partner Amazon Web Services, Xconomy reported. While customers get 1TB of storage for nothing, the prices jump steeply from there: An additional terabyte costs $250 per month or $2,000 per year, and a 10TB package runs $1,500 per month or $12,000 per year. Yet customers can essentially rent this storage capacity without having to invest in their own pricey data warehouses.

In the fourth quarter, Illumina plans to open an app store for bioinformatics software that enables its customers to drill deeper into the genomic data from Illumina's sequencing hardware. As Xconomy reported, Illumina expects to get a 30% cut on sales of apps from its virtual store, called BaseSpace Apps, much in the way that Apple ($AAPL) gets a percentage of sales on apps from third parties that market their apps on the company's App Store. In April, Illumina listed 14 life sciences software providers that planned to offer their products on its app store.  

"Making BaseSpace accessible to more researchers will have far-reaching effects," Alex Dickinson, Illumina's senior vice president of cloud genomics, said in a statement, "enabling more investment in understanding biology and less in processing data."

- here's the release
- see Xconomy's article