Genomics England picks Skyscape to provide cloud computing power to sequencing drive

Genomics England's David Brown

Genomics England has selected Skyscape Cloud Services to provide computing power in support of its massive sequencing initiative. Once up to speed, Genomics England will have access to a cluster of more than 20,000 central processing unit (CPU) cores and a private cloud running across two data centers.

Skyscape, which has built its business around contracts with with the United Kingdom public sector, is providing the power on a compute-as-a-service basis. Genomics England will tap into this resource to power the processing and analysis of data it is set to generate through the sequencing of 100,000 rare disease and cancer genomes. The decision was underpinned by a belief that Skyscape is best placed to take on the technical challenges and privacy concerns associated with the pioneering genome sequencing and data sharing initiative.

"Given the nature of our work and the sensitive patient data that we are entrusted with, it was crucial that we enlisted the help of a cloud services provider with an exemplary record when it comes to security," Dave Brown, head of infrastructure at Genomics England, said in a statement. Skyscape already works with the division of government that supports the prime minister and other senior politicians, the U.K. tax collection agency, the Ministry of Defence and other departments. The company has also made a concerted push to equip itself to handle health projects.

In January, Skyscape become the first cloud service provider to achieve N3 aggregator status, a designation that allowed it to connect to the broadband network that links up the National Health Service (NHS). The status means Genomics England can contract Skyscape to create a private cloud and make it available to outposts of the NHS through the N3 broadband network. With Skyscape handling the back-end computing work, NHS sites should be able to make use of the fruits of the 100,000 Genomes Project without making major investments in their own IT capabilities. 

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