Researchers say open-source collaboration is ‘fundamental’

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New Seqera Labs data have revealed that 72% of research scientists believe open-source collaboration and workflow management is now “fundamental” to the work they do.

The data published by Seqera Labs, a provider of secure data orchestration software, brings together the views of 500 researchers and scientists who use open-source scientific workflow platforms for their work. 

Such systems are used by researchers to standardize the way data is analyzed, reduce duplication and provide the infrastructure for high level projects both within their organizations and externally in genomics, metagenomics, and transcriptomics.

The study found that open-source workflow platforms are currently being utilized across all continents, with 41% noting the value for cross-organization collaboration and 32% highlighting the benefits in international collaboration more broadly. With global scientific knowledge and resources spread across the world, 41% said community adoption of a workflow system was very important to the future of their research. One in three (34%) noted the financial savings that open-source scientific workflows had brought them as significant for their research.

Harshil Patel, head of scientific development at Seqera Labs, said: “Significant improvements in the ability for data orchestration tools to manage and organize large volumes of data empowered nations to monitor the spread of Covid-19 and continue to operate at the forefront of the world’s defenses against the likes of influenza, RSV and Avian Flu. These tools are operating on the precipice of scientific discovery and are acting as the first line of defense against pandemic threats. Improved efficiency and scalability of research infrastructure is now fundamental for ongoing scientific research and future breakthroughs as they are no longer impeded by cost or capacity restraints when it comes to the pipelines used.”

As breakthroughs in personalized medicines and gene therapies create the prospect of ever-more sophisticated treatments for patients, the scientific infrastructure behind such research is improving alongside it. One such area is the uptake of public cloud-based providers, which brings benefits in terms of project scalability. More than two fifths (42%) of researchers said they use the public cloud, up 20% on the year before. Among private sector organizations, this figure is even higher, with 80% of organizations using public cloud-based providers.

The preferred provider amongst those surveyed was Amazon Web Services, with 49% saying it would be their chosen public cloud were they to migrate. 12% said they would opt for Google cloud and 8% said Azure.

Evan Floden, founder and CEO of Seqera Labs, said: “As the use of cloud computing continues to play a foundational role in bioinformatics research, there remains a need for cost-effective and scalable ways to store and process large volumes of sequencing data. Meeting this technical challenge has been crucial for the progression of precision medicines and will only become more important as these orchestration tools are further embedded into our global research structures. 

“The dawn of the collaborative approach to scientific research, which utilizes scalable data orchestration tools, has led to new therapies, personalized treatments, and a shift in terms of what is possible for scientists to achieve.”

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