Cloud Computing for Pharma: Explained

The disruptive effect of information processing systems on the pharmaceutical industry is tough to overstate. In fact, many of the most significant recent breakthroughs in biology and medicine, such as the mapping of the human genome, occurred thanks to the increases in computing power, information processing, and big data infrastructure.

Technological progress continues to march forward, and many experts believe that cloud computing will be responsible for the next generation of pharmaceutical breakthroughs.

However, many people are still unclear about exactly what cloud computing is and its possible implications for the pharmaceutical industry. Moreover, the term cloud computing is used in a variety of contexts and it can refer to several different technologies.

If investors, consumers, and medical professionals are to comprehend the promise of coming biological breakthroughs, it’s essential to learn the basic concepts of cloud computing. Let’s dive in and explore those concepts as well as the implications they will have for pharmaceutical companies.

What Is Cloud Computing?

The term cloud computing refers to the distribution of different internet-based services including servers, software applications, data storage, and networking. One of the biggest advantages of cloud computing is that it allows information to be stored remotely online, rather than accessing that data locally using a hard drive or local server.

In other words, if data is stored in the cloud, any computer with an internet connection and appropriate permissions can access it whenever and wherever necessary. This dramatically simplifies the data storage and retrieval process, providing benefits like remote access, scalability, and security. 

If the concept of cloud storage is still a little unclear, it’s best to think of it in terms of examples you probably are already familiar with. If you take a picture on your phone, that picture will be stored on the local memory of your phone. If you lose your phone you will also lose access to the picture. 

However, if you upload that photo to one of the many cloud storage providers such as iCloud, Google Drive, or Dropbox, you’ll be able to access that photo from any internet-connected computer with your login credentials. The photo will also be accessible even if your phone is lost or stolen. Cloud computing is so effective that many phones will automatically backup photos or videos to a cloud storage provider if you opt in. 

It’s easy to see why cloud computing has already become a part of our daily lives and why it’s likely to be among some of the other big tech trends of 2022.

Applications of Cloud Computing

Data can do more than be stored in the cloud, it can also be analyzed, manipulated, or updated there as well. This takes a lot of the computational heavy lifting away from local machines and computers, which can lead to lower costs and increased efficiency. 

Software applications can also be run on the cloud, which increases their accessibility and scalability. It shouldn’t surprise you that many of the applications that we rely on every day, including email, operate and store data on the cloud. These software applications are sometimes offered to consumers as a service and are referred to as software as a service (SaaS) platforms.

However, it’s not just consumers that make use of cloud computing technologies. Increasingly, businesses are leveraging cloud computing to achieve strategic objectives. This has led to top technology companies offering enterprise products and services to businesses. 

Some of these enterprise cloud products include Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, and Alibaba Cloud. There are even no-code companies, which allow nontechnical workers to leverage the power of the cloud and AI.

Enterprise cloud products are often classified as either infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or platform as a service (PaaS). Infrastructure as a service refers to products that sell hardware infrastructure such as web servers as a service; and platform as a service companies generally offer tech that can be leveraged to build other digital products.

How Does Pharma Cloud Computing Work for Drug Discovery

Pharma cloud computing has become increasingly important in the healthcare industry since it allows data gathered by biotechnology companies to be stored, analyzed, and distributed. In fact, Dickson data describes cloud computing infrastructure as the platform that will enable full and complete digital transformation of the industry. 

Pharmaceutical companies gather vast amounts of data both from clinical trials and drug discovery programs. This data must be stored, secured, shared, and analyzed. 

“With cloud computing you’re able to access and leverage data in the cloud, and use other cloud tools like analytics and AI to focus on what’s the next action a field sales rep should take, for example, based on the subject’s prescribing history,” says Mike Townsend, a research manager for life sciences and commercial strategies. That means that cloud computing has profound applications for pharmaceutical sales and marketing. 

Cloud-based software tools can use machine learning to provide detailed analytics data related to key target markets and possibly cut down the expenses related to retaining a marketing agency.

Cloud computing also makes it easier for pharmaceutical companies to scale up operations as their data storage needs increase. Storing data on the cloud can often eliminate the need for companies to buy their own expensive server infrastructure as they scale or establish intranet systems and instead rent that equipment from an infrastructure as a service company. 

Cloud Computing and Data Loggers

Cloud computing can be useful not just in the data storage and analysis process, but also in the data collection process. Pharmaceutical companies often use small electronic devices called data loggers to collect environmental data such as temperature, humidity, and differential pressure. 

This data is often crucial to measure, record, and report to regulators when storing or transporting temperature-sensitive medical products.

Typically, this data can be housed on the data logger’s internal memory and transferred to an external hard drive, computer, or software later on. However, many pharmaceutical companies are now using cloud computing to store, access, and share that collected environmental data in the cloud. 

In this case, data loggers are connected to the internet, through which data is transferred to a cloud storage provider. A benefit of this approach is that the data can be viewed and assessed in real time. Companies can therefore be alerted early to sudden changes in temperature in storage facilities where expensive medical products are kept. 

To sum up, it’s clear that cloud computing is already playing an important role in the pharmaceutical industry. Pharma cloud computing will continue to propel the industry’s digital transformation. 

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