Sequencing giant BGI shoots for the cloud

With DNA sequencing data storage and analysis stressing the computing capacity of some labs, BGI is expanding into the realm of cloud computing from its core business of providing sequencing services, Nature News reports. And some genomics researchers are keeping an eye on the effort as their groups wrestle with the complexities of managing massive amounts of data for studies.

While Complete Genomics ($GNOM) has used Amazon's cloud to meet the computing needs of some of its sequencing customers, BGI's "in-house" cloud computing combined with its massive sequencing capabilities could pack a potent one-two punch in the marketplace, according to the report. As FierceBiotech IT reported last month, Shenzhen-based BGI is already the largest sequencing group in the world and has advanced its own internal bioinformatics technology to aid researchers in analyzing sequenced genomes.

A key advantage of having in-house cloud computing might be controlling costs. And BGI could tailor its cloud-based bioinformatics tools to meet some of the unique needs of life sciences customers. "If somebody can produce a cloud service that's ideal for bioinformatics and costs less than Amazon, there's a niche market there they could really capture," Paul Flicek, a bioinformatics specialist at the European Bioinformatics Institute, told Nature News.

Yet BGI has some competition in the race to move bioinformatics to the cloud. In addition to Complete Genomics' use of the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, a number of other companies are providing tools to enable sequencing data to be stored and analyzed in the cloud. For example, PerkinElmer ($PKI) this year scooped up Geospiza, a provider of cloud-based analysis software for microarray and sequencing data. And other groups offering cloud-based genome analysis tools include DNAnexus and GenomeQuest.

- read the Nature News report