Support package for Ion Torrent

04 Feb 2011 Support package for Ion Torrent

(photo credit: Bioteam is partnering with Life Technologies to offer a support package for the Ion Torrent compute server, called the Torrent Server. We’re all pretty excited to get moving now that the deal is inked and the press release (PDF version below) is public.

The short version is that customers will be able to purchase either a three month or a full year support contract with Bioteam from the Ion Torrent web store. This will provide:

* An initial phone consultation, after the system is installed and delivered by Ion Torrent
* Support and training via phone and email for initial integration with the lab network and data storage
* Ongoing email support for issues that may arise between the Torrent Server and the lab IT environment.

It’s important to note that Bioteam is not claiming to support the Personal Genome Machine. That’s wholly and entirely the field engineering team from Ion Torrent. Our goal is to provide expertise and experience at the integration layer between torrent server and the local IT resources.

Here’s a slightly broader take on it:

Ever since lab instruments have been connected to IT networks, the question of “where the instrument vendor stops,” has been a challenge. Second and third generation DNA sequencers brought this challenge front and center. These machines are complex piles of robotic chemistry. They generate massive amounts of data, which creates computational load. All of these instruments contain some sort of on-board compute server – and some contain entire compute clusters. Most of them come with software which can be charitably described as “custom.”

Most instrument vendors don’t particularly want to be dragged into the world of building compute clusters and large data storage. They also don’t necessarily want to be really really good at writing software. Most instrument vendors recognize their core competency is, well, in the chemistry and perhaps the robotics. On the other side, very few life sciences IT organizations want to populate their network closets with a series of one-off instrument-specific gear. Nobody wants to see a central IT group driven around by the compute server or network layout chosen by an instrument vendor.

Things have gotten a lot better on this front in the last few years – and Bioteam has been in the thick of it that whole time. We’ve approached the situation from a number of fronts. I’ve re-built existing compute clusters to support primary and secondary pipelines of off-instrument analysis. I’ve also done some serious tinkering under the hood of sequencing instruments to get them to connect to existing systems in a sensible way. While I do get tired of using our marketing tag-line, Bioteam’s specialty of “bridging the gap,” really applies here.

In my (somewhat biased) opinion, Ion Torrent has struck exactly the right balance with the Torrent Server. They have drawn an architectural separation between the lab instrument and the server that does primary analysis. They provide a single working server that the end user is not expected to tinker with. They provide recipes and protocols for integrating that server into generic networks and data storage environments. Finally, they partnered with Bioteam to cover whatever gap remains.

Bioteam has been involved with the Ion Torrent team for some time now. We’re confident both in the system and in our ability to provide real value where it meets the lab information management layer.

Ion Torrent Press Release


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