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How the Cloud Will Save Your Life

As the marketing manager at Perficient focused on cloud and DevOps solutions, I have the opportunity to sit front and center to how cloud technologies are transforming the way people live. Whether it’s the infrastructure that prevents an eCommerce website from falling victim to heavy traffic on Black Friday or a digital platform that allows financial professionals to track the stock market, these new technologies have become a fabric of everyday human needs.

It’s no secret then that cloud technologies also have a place in healthcare, where the pursuit of cancer cures and preventative health have always been a constant conversation. Furthermore, the mainstream popularization of IBM’s artificial intelligence (AI) platform, Watson, have also provided the computing power to aid scientists in research and discovery.

The latest development from Watson comes out of the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, where the AI helped discover 5 genes linked to Lou Gherig’s Disease, named after the famed New York Yankees great. The ailment, otherwise known as amyoptrophic lateral sclerosis, causes the premature death of voluntary muscle cells, leading to a slow paralysis and death. With no known cause and few medicines to ease symptoms, Watson’s breakthrough is a prime example of what modern innovations are capable of.

Discovery in the Cloud

For many of us, Watson is known for its series of dominant appearances on the TV show Jeopardy! and the ability to predict sports outcomes. The gene discoveries are the first of its kind, as scientists leveraged the platform to consume all published literature on ALS and understand the proteins connected to the disease. Upon completing those tasks, the system then ranked nearly 1,500 genes in the human genome and predicted any possible associations.

Watson’s conclusions ended up being accurate, as scientists on the study discovered that 8 out of 10 proposed genes were linked to the disease, with 5 completely new ones. Now scientists will be able to seek new inroads to finding cures as well as understanding how the disease affects different people, with the input of new data points. Not only will their discoveries occur more efficiently, but they will also occur at lower costs.

The Greatness of Cloud

What Watson has been able to accomplish in neuroscience is a small microcosm of what is truly possible. Here are some ideas given current available technologies.

  • Integration: Many organizations are still drawing ROI from their on-premises cloud solutions and are not yet ready to upgrade. Integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) seeks to bridge the gap by offering connectivity between on-premises and cloud platforms, connecting social networks, sales management platforms, and data visualization tools (just to name a few) to on-premises servers. Our offering here is Dell Boomi.
  • Cloud-Native: As more and more developers embrace open-source, much of what is developed will go cloud-native, existing in technologies including application programming interfaces (APIs), microservices, and containers. Each of these will allow life sciences organizations to focus on application isolation, interconnectivity, and development at scale, enabling the completion of large projects or the management of much smaller impactful ones. We offer cloud-native solutions through our partnership with Pivotal.
  • Internet of Things (IoT): Perhaps the most popular use case in life sciences right now is the Internet of Things, particularly as consumers purchase wearables to track their fitness and health. As more consumers get into the game, organizations will need to leverage cloud storage to house all the data created. We can provide support through both our Amazon Web Services and IBM Cloud offerings.
  • Continuous Delivery and Innovation: As scientific research is constantly evolving, so should the technologies used. The emergence of the DevOps philosophy means that more organizations now rely on constant innovation, a far cry from the project-by-project approach long favored by legacy enterprises. For life sciences firms who develop applications that enable research and discovery, they can now deploy updates automatically instead of on a time delay. We offer support for these needs through our Sonatype and Cloudbees partnerships.

The greatness of cloud lies in the notion that everything exists in an ecosystem as opposed to a specific technology. By implementing some or all of the above, you not only innovate, but also take one step closer to finding a cure or discovering a breakthrough that may have taken longer to occur.

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Are you a life sciences organization looking to leverage artificial intelligence and the cloud to take your research and discovery initiatives to the next level? Send us an email at and let’s get a conversation started.

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Albert Qian

Albert Qian is a Marketing Manager at Perficient for our IBM PCS, DevOps, and Enterprise Solutions Partners focused on cloud computing technologies.

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