Guest Post: Getting Into ‘The Cloud’ – A Practical PerspectiveLeave a Comment
As we’ve all been hearing for the last few years, “The Cloud” is going to revolutionize our lives with scalable, on-demand computing and storage resources to suit all our software requirements. Soon we will require only a simple device to access our digital needs from anywhere in the world, and that ugly beige box under our desks can disappear. As the first generation of applications made its way to the cloud, it seemed as if the promise of the technology may already be a reality – witness Netflix hosting their entire video-on-demand service on Amazon’s cloud. However as user demand grows, and the next generation of software that runs mission critical operations in businesses and healthcare begin their cloud deployments, the situation becomes more complex. Each cloud provider is beginning to differentiate themselves to stand out from the crowd, and the choice of which cloud to host your service on is becoming a significant component of both the technical and business decision making process.
At Transformatix Technologies Inc., and our subsidiary BioLinQ, we encountered this issue early in the process of porting our software to the cloud. As providers of digital healthcare services, we felt that offering our Continuum suite as cloud based Software as a Service (SaaS) was a straightforward business decision – rapidly scalable, on-demand, and no hardware installation or support issues. As we began our selection of our cloud providers however, we began to see that the picture was not so clear. With four major components of the Continuum suite to port we quickly found that each component had its own unique requirements that resulted in there being no single cloud provider that could deliver optimum performance.
The Transformatix Continuum components had the following needs:
A biobank specimen tracking package—24/7 access, fast interface response, but low bandwidth, storage, and computation needs
A medical data warehousing and collaboration tool—huge storage requirements, high bandwidth for data in, low computation needs
A medical image sharing and annotation tool—large storage requirement, high bandwidth for data out, global access, moderate computation
A bioinformatics toolkit—huge storage requirements, intense computation, high bi-directional bandwidth
Apart from the need for security (HIPAA compliance) each application had widely varying requirements and in our estimation we would need to be using at best two, and likely three, different cloud providers to achieve best results for each component. Making a decision today to hard-wire our apps to any one cloud could significantly reduce required flexibility in the future. How then, to direct our development resources to best provide the Continuum suite as SaaS?
It was during this dilemma that we encountered CliQr, with their ability to ‘lift and shift’ applications quickly into a cloud, and between clouds. Working with their team, we at Transformatix imported one of our tools to their platform to test, and found that we achieved comparable performance to any dedicated single cloud implementation, with less effort than performing that implementation ourselves. While the ease of implementation was a benefit, it was the ability to shift between clouds quickly, that rapidly became the most useful feature to us.
With CliQr, as the cost of moving and testing to each cloud was effectively zero. We began to test each cloud for their applicability for our tools, and in a few weeks had narrowed down the top performers for each tool. We could setup each tool to work with the best provider, and then in the event of an outage failover to the next choice.
The capability to rapidly test multiple clouds’ performance, and deploy accordingly, is invaluable to Transformatix in ensuring best performance for the customer, lowest cost to us, but also the most important thing – maximum uptime.
It’s a rapidly changing world, and for Transformatix, it’s clear we need to be moving just as fast to provide the needed capabilities to our customers.
Paul Reynolds, Ph.D.
Transformatix Technologies Inc