March 7, 2002
IBM Data Management Solutions
Data Management Nightmare Gets Worse
What is the history of your organization’s involvement in life sciences?
Perna: IBM sees a huge convergence between information technology and biology. If you look at what it takes to run biology experiments, you’ll see that they utilize information technology; we wouldn’t have the life sciences industry without computers. Life sciences companies worldwide, including biotech, pharmaceutical, and others are spending $22 billion a year on IT. IBM formed the Life Sciences business unit in August 2000 to capture an early stake in this rapidly emerging market. Our focus is on developing partnerships with key biotech companies and on developing technology offerings that support breakthrough work being done in genomics and proteomics.
What organizational assets have you developed to serve this community?
Perna: IBM’s Life Sciences unit brings together the core strengths of IBM: high-performance computing, data and storage management, data integration, knowledge management, e-business capabilities, and services and research expertise to help improve the understanding and usability of genetic information and deliver a complete portfolio of IT solutions and partnerships to the life sciences industry.
Before long, life sciences companies will need to deal with petabytes and exabytes of research data. The challenge will be in analyzing the data itself—cracking the complex genetic codes (massive computer codes) of human DNA, requiring analytical tools of enormous sophistication and computing power. This is where IBM’s technology will evolve to continue meeting the needs of life sciences companies.
What products and services does your company provide to the life sciences market?
Perna: If you think of the biggest challenges today in the whole area of life sciences, there are really two major problems: large amounts of data and integrating the different types of data that’s often geographically dispersed. Public data and private data have to be brought together and integrated. If you look at any industry today, the amount of data is growing tremendously—doubling every 19 to 20 months. In the life sciences, it’s doubling every 6 months. Researchers need to be able to access, share, and mine this complex data to identify key biological patterns and associations that could lead to breakthrough scientific discoveries.
IBM’s DiscoveryLink is providing the data integration and access needed to foster breakthrough innovation. DiscoveryLink is uniquely suited to the life sciences industry, because of its use of federation technology for data integration. Other approaches have centered on moving large volumes of data into one central place, but this is a timely and expensive process. Federated data technology enables these companies to leave data where it is and access it in an optimized way.
The foundation for DiscoveryLink is the DB2 relational database technology. DB2 provides the necessary power to perform the analysis of complex data, mixing and matching millions—often billions—of variables involved in studying and analyzing gene expressions, protein molecules, chemical pathways, and medical clinical results.
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