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BGI Develops a Cloud in a Box for Faster Analysis of Genomic Data

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To meet the increasing demand of researchers who want to take advantage of cloud computing, BGI in Shenzhen, China, has built its own cloud-computing solution terminal server called the "BGI-BOX." The new cloud-computing service is intended to provide researchers with a cloud that is easy to operate and comes ready to use with customizable bioinformatics software analysis pipelines.

"Since the year of 2009, BGI has been contributing to develop [a] cloud computing platform for processing the enormous amounts of biological data, aiming to provide comprehensive and cloud-based green — more energy efficient — solutions for researchers, and enable more efficient and reliable results for a wide range of bioinformatics analyses," says Ye Yin, director of the research and cooperation division at BGI. "To better meet the increasing demand for bioinformatics analysis, BGI has developed BGI-BOX cloud computing terminal server for users without [a] bioinformatics background, and it allows users to access bioinformatics analysis and genomic data in their own laboratories with the advantages of [an] easy-to-use, high flexibility, and user-friendly interface."

The BGI-BOX was launched in early December after roughly a year of testing with researchers at several BGI-affiliated centers. Users can access the BGI-BOX either remotely or directly, and use the resource for both computation and data storage.

"Cloud computing plays an important role in facilitating the development of bioinformatics technologies," Yin says. "Researchers can analyze massive amounts of data and perform customized data mining without the need to construct their own computer clusters. I believe the cloud-computing terminal server will gradually become more and more popular."

Yin and his team plan to build out the BGI-BOX by distributing more than 50 of the terminal servers across the globe. According to BGI, many collaborators around the world plan to install the service in their labs to exchange data and resources with other users.

"With the rapid development of high-throughput sequencing technology over the past 10 years, genomic studies have gradually become a standard approach in a wide range of research areas," Yin says. "Given that such research creates huge amounts of data, cloud computing is becoming a favorable solution for large-scale bioinformatics analysis, both in terms of resource utilization, flexibility, and efficiency, as well as time and cost savings for massive data generation and computation."

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