Microsoft lands cloud genomics infrastructure deal with UC Santa Cruz

UCSC Genomics Scientific Director David Haussler

Microsoft ($MSFT) has captured a little corner of the market for cloud genomics infrastructure. The deal sees the IT giant make its Azure cloud computing platform available to UC Santa Cruz Genomics, which plans to use the system to support its work on the Human Genome Variation Map and other initiatives.

UCSC stepped up its interest in sourcing a cloud genomics system following the lifting of restrictions on the use of such platforms by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) earlier this year. Microsoft is competing with multiple companies, including fellow West Coast tech giants Amazon ($AMZN) and Google ($GOOG), for the nascent market. Landing the partnership with UCSC represents a boost for its attempts to position Azure as an alternative to Amazon Web Services and Google Genomics. UCSC likes what it has seen so far. 

"Microsoft's resources can have a big impact in genomics. They have the expertise in cloud computing, and we have the genomics expertise, so this partnership has great potential," UCSC Genomics Scientific Director David Haussler said in a statement. UCSC will use Azure to support the data storage, analysis and sharing requirements of some of its major initiatives, such as the Human Genome Variation Map and the California Kids Cancer Comparison. Haussler and his colleagues think moving the initiatives into the cloud is the most efficient way to handle their growing requirements.

UCSC talked up the flexibility of the model in its release to unveil the news. Like other genomics research institutes before it, UCSC is excited by the option to have significant computing power available on tap--without having to build, maintain and grow the capacity internally. "It's more efficient to share compute resources than to own it ourselves," Benedict Paten, assistant director of the Center for Big Data in Translational Genomics at UCSC, said.

- read the release