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Auspex Eyes Genomics Research as Hot Market for Network Attached Storage

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Auspex Systems, credited for introducing the first network attached storage (NAS) server a decade ago, made its official debut in the life sciences market in a recent deal with Agencourt Bioscience.

Agencourt purchased a 1.5 terabyte Auspex NS3000 enterprise data server to store the data generated at its Beverly, Mass., sequencing facility. Kevin McKernan, co-chief scientific officer at Agencourt, said the company sequences about 20 million bases a day on a fleet of ABI 3700s as part of its contract sequencing program. Its sequencing activities represent well over 200 gigabytes of data per month.

Steve Shannon, chief technical officer at Agencourt, said the company put out a bid to about 30 storage vendors, which it then narrowed down to a group of six who participated in an in-house “bake-off.”

“Half of them failed miserably,” said Shannon. Most systems, he said, were unable to handle file sharing priveleges correctly between the Windows NT-based sequencers and Agencourt’s Linux back-end system. While the Auspex system came in at a higher price than the runner-up, Shannon said Agencourt went with it largely “because it worked out of the box and never stopped working.” Other deciding factors included the system’s scalability to 68 terabytes on a single server, and Auspex’s customer support capabilities.

While Auspex has had a successful history in traditional IT markets — software development, CAD/CAM, oil and gas, financial services, and geological surveys — the company is making an effort to broaden its market into genomics and other data-intensive areas where it sees a key opportunity for network storage.

“The fact that the Auspex NS3000 prevailed in Agencourt’s test should serve as a sign to other genomics firms, and to companies in other industries, that Auspex servers can meet the most stringent file-serving requirements in any business environment,” said Mike Sutkowski, vice president of sales for Auspex.

While Agencourt is its first life sciences customer, Sutkowski said “the referral program is already kicking in,” and he’s had a number of queries from other biotech companies. “Based on our initial foray into the genomics marketplace, it can rival the marketplace that we’ve seen in other data-intensive markets such as oil and gas,” Sutkowski said.

“I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we see upwards of 10 percent of our business coming from this industry,” Sutkowski added.

— BT

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