Researchers trial DNA sequencing in cloud based Azure platform.
CITS Systems engineers, Dr Amandeep Sidhu and Brendon Wade, have almost completed a six-month trial of the Microsoft Windows HPC platform, combined with Microsoft Azure Cloud, to speed DNA and RNA sequencing. The trial is helping CITS determine the viability of Windows HPC Server 2008 and Azure Cloud (HPC+Azure) as a service to complement the facilities available and coming online at iVEC and the Pawsey Centre.
"A focus has been transmitting data between the compute nodes in Singapore, internal HPC nodes at Curtin and the genome sequencing machine at Royal Perth Hospital," Dr Sidhu explained.
The hybrid Microsoft Windows HPC and Azure solution helps researchers reduce time and costs typically associated with bioinformatics by reducing complex analysis times to less than a week in the cloud environment. A complex human genome sequence - which initially took millions of dollars and 13 years to complete - could now be analysed in less than a week in the cloud.
If adopted as a service, HPC+Azure could be used by Curtin researchers to achieve quick turnaround times for complex computational tasks involved in disease-susceptibility prediction, targeted treatments and conservation of extinct species. The trial is expanding to explore applications for modelling, simulation and computation for engineering, science, mathematics and digital design.
Since March, Amandeep has held dual roles of System Engineer and Adjunct Research Fellow for the University's School of Biomedical Sciences, effectively becoming a middle-man for IT-intensive initiatives such as the DNA sequencing trial.
CIO Peter Nikoletatos says the new role was part of Curtin IT Services' move to drop the "e" from "eResearch" and make the role of IT in projects more commonplace.
"At an operational level, seconding Amandeep into our team provided a real researcher's mindset to help build our capability," he said.