Healthcare and Life Sciences, Meet the Third Platform of Storage

By now, everyone is familiar with IDC’s view of technology progression. We are transitioning to the third platform where both people and their data are mobile, apps and users number in the millions and interact through new social outlets, Big Data is needed to explore these social interconnections, and cloud services are what enable it all.

IDC’s Third Platform Applied to Storage
IDC’s Third Platform Applied to Storage

IDC’s Third Platform Applied to Storage

While IDC’s model shows the general direction of IT technology, the model also applies to data storage. The first platform used block based direct attached storage, the second platform is based on networked storage, which brings us to the third storage platform, object storage. Infinite scalability and rich metadata, along with the ability to store very large collections of unstructured data enables collaboration – a key premise for the third platform.

Object Storage in Heathcare and Life Sciences

Enterprise Content Management in Healthcare

Healthcare IT continues to transition to electronic health records (EHR) ahead of regulatory deadlines. In clinical environments, data resides in so many locations and in so many different formats that the true value of the data cannot be realized. On top of this, a clinician needs to have instant access to test results and patient information from anywhere and at any time.

Current EHR solutions are good for capturing and organizing patient information within a hospital environment, but they are not designed to organize data across the many systems found in a healthcare network, let alone dissimilar systems used by service partners. This is the pain point that Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems such as Hyland’s OnBase and others are targeting. An ECM system is able to aggregate patient information across varied repositories, making it searchable. An object storage-backed ECM supports anywhere, anytime access across platforms regardless of file type.

Genomics and Object Storage

The promise of personalized medicine is fueling significant investment in the field of genomics. With each run, genome sequencers create massive amounts of test data that must be stored and analyzed. Current Next-Generation Sequencers (NGS) are able to run tests in hours instead of days, allowing researchers to run more tests in less time. To drive this point home, consider that Illumina’s HiSeq X Ten sequencing system can process approximately 18,000 whole genomes per year. Now, multiply that by file sizes that can easily reach 80-90 terabytes and it’s obvious that storage quickly becomes a choke point inhibiting scientific progress.Gnemoics_ActiveArchive

Admittedly, this is an extreme case given the sequencer’s hefty price tag (don’t expect to see one of these on your next visit to the doctor). Still, it is not uncommon for researchers to generate between 10 and 30 terabytes of data per day, enough to quickly consume a high-end storage array. Researchers must choose between keeping the data and moving it to cheaper, slower storage. Many organizations are seriously considering cloud storage as an alternative to expensive, high performance disk arrays.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine routinely moving several days’ worth of test data across a wide area network, fat pipe or not. For this reason, Illumina has developed BaseSpace, so its sequencers can transfer raw sequence data directly to the cloud via an S3 interface. Expect the sequencing industry as a whole to rapidly follow suit. HGST’s Active Archive System offers native S3 connectivity, making easy access possible without sending your bits offsite through a straw.

The Joining of Forces

Given the different workflows and performance needs of Heathcare and Life Sciences, it seems unlikely that one storage platform could support both segments. However, the benefits of personalized medicine cannot be achieved until the gap is bridged between genomics research and clinical practice. In fact, the National Institute of Health (NIH) recently committed $48M in research grants to integrate genomic information into EHRs in an effort to prepare both EHRs and the healthcare system for precision medicine. Couple this with the government’s recently published Heath IT Strategic Plan calling for healthcare IT systems to support personal monitoring devices such as Fitbit and Smartphone apps and you can see where things are heading – lots of data streaming from multiple sources continuously. Talk about an IoT data deluge. The question becomes, will your storage system support the third platform?


HGST’s portfolio

HGST offers a variety of products to help healthcare and life science companies meet these and other IT challenges. The HGST Active Archive System was designed with the third platform in mind, based on the tenets of simplicity and anywhere, anytime access to your data. Amazon S3 compatibility and 15 – 9s of data durability ensures that your RESTful and file based apps will always have access to your data. Researchers can leverage it’s iRODS connectivity to match their data workflows.

In addition, our FlashMAX SSD is ideal for accelerating traditional clinical VDI environments and EHR systems. Users will notice an immediate improvement in application response times, improving worker satisfaction and driving worker productivity to new heights.

Cited References:

Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology – move beyond EHR to encompass all forms of health information
Strategic plan –
NIH funding research to fuel fusion of Genomics and EHR – Baylor College of Medicine,


About Scott Cleland

avatarWith over 30 years of engineering and marketing experience in Systems, flash, disk and tape storage, Scott enjoys a rich environment of storage and solutions focus. Cleland has lead WW marketing efforts as Senior Director at Violin Memory most recently and previously was the director of enterprise storage for Fusion-io, ran worldwide marketing for LSI and Adaptec. He was a key contributor in the 3ware achievement of the number one serial storage channel vendor status for two consecutive years. Before joining 3ware, he was director of product marketing and technical marketing for IBM’s Mylex storage division, and previously held marketing and engineering positions at Archive, Exabyte, BusLogic and Conner Peripherals.
Scott is currently our Senior Director Product Marketing and is always looking for a band to showcase his tasty guitar licks.
Cleland holds a degree in Electrical Engineering and attended San Jose State University.