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The 4 Stages of Biotech Growth - And Their IT Needs


The Hard(ware) Side of Growth Management

The Hard(ware) Side of Growth Management
Stage 1:
Building Out Infrastructure
Predictably the basic office infrastructure, which includes desktops, network switches, cabling, tape backup, and a centralized data file server, comes first. Second, an application server is needed that will host both e-mail and a simple accounting application to manage payroll and accounts receivable. Laboratory equipment is also purchased at this stage, such as flow cytometers, HPLCs, or gene sequencers, all of which typically require specialty workstations for collecting and analyzing the results.
Stage 2:
More Boxes
Cash is still king for the Stage-2 biotech, so new system are purchased to fill immediate needs and don't necessarily integrate with each other. Server purchases for Web, document management, and intranet applications allow the company to store and perhaps even share corporate data, but result in hardware used specifically for lone applications. The lab is growing to include Quality Control apps, and that requires buying more equipment. To organize the near-overwhelming data, instruments and workstations must be connected to robust servers containing relational databases to store and index research data.
Stage 3:
Overwhelming Infrastructure
When a biotech grows to Stage 3, the IT server room might contain 20 or more servers with various operating systems, software applications, database, and data formats. The software apps now being purchased aren't necessarily standalone, but tend to be sophisticated, add-on-style modules to existing applications. Supply-chain management extends the financial system; publishing software add-ons enable document management applications to publish e-CTDs (electronic common technical documents); LIMS systems combine various laboratory databases into one controlled environment. More software may be added, but the amount of hardware won't grow proportionally. Consolidated software will actually require less—but more robust—hardware.
Stage 4:
Sustaining Growth
By drug commercialization, few new applications will be added, and there'll be a shift towards reporting on existing data and information. Moore's law teaches that microprocessor power doubles every 18 months, and the same holds true for the generation of corporate data. If not done by Stage 3, the biotech should be consolidating its data into more sophisticated SAN- or NAS-style storage configurations in Stage 4, thereby allowing for dynamic allocation of applications as required.
Source: Pacific Coast Information Systems

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