|Broad Institute HQ--Courtesy of the Broad Institute|
Google ($GOOG) has signed up a high-profile collaborator to work on its burgeoning cloud genomics platform. The agreement will see the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard work with Google to create new tools that pair their respective strengths in data analysis and cloud computing, starting with the offering of GATK as a service.
Broad Institute is making its GATK, also known as the Genome Analysis Toolkit, available as a service to users of the Google Cloud Platform. Initially, the partners will limit the number of users who have access to GATK, but the plan is to advance out of this alpha-stage release and make the service more widely available. Then, any user of Google Genomics will be able to upload their data to the cloud and run GATK analyses using the search giant's computing capacity. This fusion between Broad Institute's genomics knowhow and Google's computing grunt runs right through the alliance.
"In order to scale up by the next order of magnitude, Broad and Google will work together to explore how to build new tools and find new insights to propel biomedical research, using deep bioinformatics expertise, powerful analytics, and massive computing infrastructure," Jonathan Bingham, product manager at Google Genomics, wrote in a blog post. The relationship also promises to lessen the IT burden on researchers by allowing them to outsource the configuration of technical specifications and maintenance of computing capacity to Google.
Such a simplification of the lives of researchers is central to the cloud-computing pitch being made by Google and its rivals. GATK has been downloaded around 20,000 times, Reuters reports. In the near future, each of those downloaders could turn to Google Genomics instead. The availability of GATK and other tools could give Google and edge over Amazon ($AMZN) in genomics, a field in which it is difficult for either company to differentiate on price. Google's relationship with Broad Institute isn't exclusive, though, so its rivals could still offer competing services.