Amazon’s Big Free Genetic Database{1}

by David A
This article is about Amazon’s release of the 1000 Genomes project using Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) cloud computing unit to the public for free. The Genome project comprises of the genetic information taken from 1,700 people, which amounts to about 200 Terabytes of storage data. AWS is going to spend a lot of money providing these services to the public and will have to charge normal rates per computer use for those companies wanting to manipulate and process the data, which is still considerably lower than buying a supercomputer to process large amounts of data costing millions of dollars. The article mentions a project done by AWS that created a virtual supercomputer for a pharmaceutical client which took an 11 year equivalent work, and processed it in a few hours, charging $1,279 an hour. This much data has never been available to the public before, and is revolutionary to the health care industry. We have learned about diseases such as sickle cell anemia to have genetic bases, and diseases such as diabetes, and heart diseases are suspected to be hereditary. With enough genetic information through larger sample sizes and variations, we could predict the risks of disease for individuals more accurately.

I found this article to be fascinating. It is a perfect example of how Cloud computing is revolutionizing the IT industry. We are having access to more and more data and with cloud computing capabilities we can process a lot of data in a very short amount of time. AWS through Amazon is a great example of company that provides Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) that delivers hardware networking capabilities for storage and other services on a pay per use terms. This article doesn’t mention databases directly, but having 200 terabytes of data has to be stored somewhere. The challenge is accessing that much data in a short amount of time remotely from the cloud. But AWS has worked on projects in the past as was mentioned in the article, and definitely has the processing power to pull it off. I am excited to see what they do next.

Source: Quentin Hard, Amazon Web Services’ Big Free Genetic Database, Retrieved March 29, 2012 from New York Times Bits Web site: