Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Closing 2008

As we bring 2008 to a close, it is a good time to reflect on our progress and think about the new year ahead. Despite the world economic news, both the genomics field in general and Geospiza specifically have many positive accomplishments to show for the year.

In February, we introduced FinchLab for Next Gen Sequencing at the AGBT and ABRF conferences. At these shows, it was clear that Next Gen Sequencing was going to change the ways we think about applying DNA sequencing to interrogate a multitude of genetic and functional genomics problems. Over the course of 2008, many papers were published demonstrating the value of the massively parallel sequencing technology. MassGenomics dubbed 2008: Year of the Cancer Genome. Other blogs are following suit with articles on personal genomics and other advancements provided largely through Next Gen Sequencing.

Throughout the year, we also learned that while you can do a lot with a huge amount of data, working with the data is extremely challenging. Conference presentations and editorials in journals frequently made this point. While many of these articles focused on the data management challenge, groups acquiring the technology were also learning that the challenges go beyond data management. Comprehensive software systems are needed to manage all facets of the process, from tracking how samples are prepared for specific experiments to how the data are stored and organized, to analyzing and presenting the data according to the experiment being performed. In short, we learned that Next Gen technologies produce sequence data in different ways and require that we think about DNA sequencing in new ways.

Geospiza’s Version 3 Software Platform and GeneSifter

To address these new challenges, and expand support for existing technologies, Geospiza accomplished two significant milestones in 2008. First, we released the third version of our software platform that supports both laboratory workflows and data analysis automation. Through this system, laboratories are able to set up different interfaces to collect experimental information, assign specific workflows to experiments, track the workflow steps in the laboratory, prepare samples for data collection runs, link data back to the original samples and process data according to the needs of the experiment - without any programming. More importantly, for those who want to develop data analysis pipelines, the system provides a deployable environment that lets you add new pipelines and make them easily accessible.

The second major milestone was our acquisition of GeneSifter. GeneSifter is an award-winning microarray data analysis product. With GeneSifter , Geospiza can deliver complete end to end systems for data intensive genetic analysis applications like microarrays and Next Gen sequencing based transcription. Also, GeneSifter, like Geospiza’s other products is web-based and can be delivered as a Software as a Service (SaaS) product.

SaaS was one of the important themes for 2008. Geospiza understands well that data intensive science requires a significant IT (Information Technology) investment. Throughout 2008, we saw first-hand that groups building their own IT infrastructures were not only challenged by investing heavily in quickly depreciating hardware assets, they experienced basic infrastructure challenges like having enough space, power, and cooling systems for the equipment. If those problems were solved, there were the other challenges with getting systems set up, running, installing software, and having experienced people - and time - to maintain the infrastructure. SaaS solves those problems and off loads the burden of maintaining expensive infrastructures. For a number of groups, locally run systems are the right choice. However, it is a choice that should be carefully thought out and well-planned. In our experience, customers choosing the SaaS option were up and running quicker at a lower cost than our customers who chose to build their systems.

As we close 2008 and look forward to 2009, we want to especially thank our customers for their support and the interesting problems they have invited us to help solve.

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