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BGI Aims to Make Cloud Computing Easy With a New Resource

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BGI has ramped up its informatics resources with the addition of a new cloud-computing resource that comes packed with bioinformatics tools. Called EasyGenomics, BGI's new cloud resource contains popular workflows for whole genome and exome sequencing analysis as well as RNA-seq, de novo assembly, and small RNA data analysis tools.

"BGI sees bioinformatics as a key strategic area for future growth. As the sequencing cost drops sharply, a vast amount of NGS data has been and will be generated, so there is a strong need for bioinformatics analysis and data management," says Xing Xu, senior product manager at BGI. "EasyGenomics is the first of many products we are going to bring to the community, making genomics easier for everyone."

In addition to providing what its designers say will be a convenient solution, the institute's new cloud is built with an ultra-fast networking backbone. According to BGI, its cloud sports a network infra-structure capable of data trans-mission rates up to 100 times faster than more traditional file transfer technology, like the File Transfer Protocol method. EasyGenomics will integrate the same high-speed file transfer technology currently used at the US National Center for Biotechnology Information and at the European Bioinformatics Institute for dealing with genome datasets. The EasyGenomics cloud is also built using the same software that Google and Facebook use to power their immense networks, including the Hadoop MapReduce distributed computing framework.

While Xu and his colleagues say that the entire development process is "very exciting," it also has a slew of technical hurdles that must be addressed to ensure that the cloud runs smoothly. This is especially crucial because, at some point, BGI plans to let the general public access their cloud as well.

"Because we are looking for a very simple and easy-to-use user interface for a very complicated system, we built a high-fidelity prototype and modified it hundreds of times to make sure all routine user cases can be handled in a simple manner before we handed it over the development team for implementation," Xu says. "We are aiming to build a robust platform for the public, so we had a very picky testing team to vigorously perform various tests to ensure the reliability and quality of software that we deliver."

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