March 12, 2007
Director, Healthcare and Life Sciences
How has your company adapted and responded to the changing economic climate in the past five years when so many others companies did not?
Sun never veered from its commitment to R&D and now that the market has improved, it is ahead of the innovation curve. We are also steadfast on our founding idea of network-centric computing, and in the last several years we have seen an increased demand for grid and utility computing which truly use the network as a means for computing. The Network is the Computer, as we said already in 1987.
What is your vision for the future of the life sciences market over the next several years?
Discovery life science will be under enormous pressure to deliver specifically targeted drugs and needs to integrate a lot of data from systems biology and proteomics. The other key development is that clinical trial times need to be shortened with improved recruiting — something that will require crossing the boundary into the clinical world and HIPAA space. CA-BIG and some smaller commercial activities are clear indicators for this. As a result of both trends, we will see short development times. The IT requirements will continue to outgrow Moore's law because of the complex data processing requirements. And compliance, pre- and post-market will add to the IT complexity.
What products and services does your company provide and what special capabilities do they offer the life sciences market?
We're evolving from a pure product provider to a more integrated offering that delivers solutions for business needs. Specifically, we not only provide very cost effective compute platforms, we now provide an entire ecosystem of integration and services, some with partners, around these compute platforms. On the data side we are introducing content aware object storage for long-term data archiving and retrieval, ideal for the data mining needs in life sciences, with the tools around them. And our business integration software allows a connection to legacy systems with new, composite applications that respond to the needs of researchers and marketing analysts. All in all we have a very comprehensive offering of products, services, partner applications and integration specifically targeted to the needs of life science and pharmaceutical companies.
Partnerships are an effective way to track life science advances and ensure that your company delivers timely products and services. Which life sciences companies or organizations have you partnered with or invested in and why?
Our next generation of the utility computing platform will feature popular applications for homology search and data analysis readily installed for the use of life science researchers — as can been seen at www.network.com. We team with many research institutions, like TIGR or EBI, because their IP benefits academic and commercial researchers globally. We also work with numerous companies that address specific problems, for example ExLudus, which has a very cost effective solution for data distribution in sequencing, yielding fantastic throughput improvements at a low cost, or clinical trials process companies like Accélère, which address the aforementioned issue of efficient recruitment into clinical trials.
What are your most exciting products and initiatives in development, and how will they improve life science research?
I would say the next generation of our SunGrid will be exciting, because it has pre-installed applications so users can really benefit from the easy access to low cost, high quality throughput capacity, which should benefit any biotech company currently restrained by throughput capacity. Another really exciting product is the StorageTek 5400, formerly codenamed Honeycomb. This fixed constant storage device is very exciting for the needs of researchers that want to mine vast amounts of unstructured data and use the intelligence of the storage device. And of course we keep good communication with our friend Andreas Bechtolsheim to design compute engines that meet the specific needs of life sciences, as we demonstrated with the Discovery Cluster last year.
Where do you see your company in five years?
Structurally, we will expand our industry competence in order to help our customers with the changing needs for IT support. Our vast portfolio of intellectual property will provide some groundbreaking products that, combined with the industry expertise, will deliver superior value. The restructuring process that Sun just went through has demonstrated that our way forward is based on high value based on our IP, not on volume without differentiating benefits. So in five years you will see us continue to focus on Network computing, open standards, and value for our customers.