With the need for a scalable, easily-procured and cost-effective long-term storage solution, the Oxford Molecular Diagnostics Centre has deployed 60TB of Arkivum/100 long-term archive storage.

The Challenge

The Oxford Molecular Diagnostics Centre (OMDC) comprises a multi-disciplinary team of clinical scientists, pathologists, bioinformaticians and clinicians and is part of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust and funded through NIHR, NHS service provision as well as external research grants.

As part of their own research programmes and their support for clinical services and research groups within the University, the OMDC had a requirement to store genome data from their ‘personalised medicine’ project funded by the Health Innovation Challenge fund. The OMDC was the first lab in the NHS to provide a gene sequencing capability as a clinical service – the end result of which was the outputting of genomic data into the patient record that must be stored for 30 years.

In the healthcare sector, cost saving is an important factor in system specification, and the Arkivum solution functionality and ease of use has greatly helped us achieve our goals in this area.

They required a single system that they could use in partnership with the Regional Genetics Lab and thus have both benefit from using the same vendor solution. In this way, they expected benefits related to future system scalability; the sharing of resources and knowledge; and the sharing of the data itself.

The requirement was for sufficient capacity to store the data that the OMDC already had (from the sequencing of 200 human genomes as part of the Genomics England 100,000 genome project) and also for their projected and ongoing needs resulting from their plan to sequence over 3,000 samples a year.

It was also important that the solution maintained instant access to all of this data whilst also providing the security and reassurance that the data will be usable and trustworthy during the 30 year retention period.

The Solution

The OMDC naturally discussed their storage needs with the local NHS IT group who were initially reluctant to outsource the storage of patient identifiable data to a commercial vendor that would be storing that data outside the NHS. Their alternative proposal however was unable to match the cost-effectiveness, ease of procurement and scalability of the one from Arkivum, based around 60TB of Arkivum/100™ storage.

The fact that Arkivum could supply an N3-connected system that was designed for secure, large scale, long-term storage meant that the procurement decision was a straightforward one.

The NHS IT group were satisfied that the architecture, capabilities and benefits of the combined Arkivum/100 and OMDC storage solution was fully aligned with the NHS long-term data storage infrastructure strategy. This was also further underpinned by the fact that Arkivum is able to provide N3 connectivity between the OMDC and its UK-based data centres.

The Arkivum solution is based around a locally located 48TB Arkivum gateway appliance that provides fast access to cached data. The choice of this size of appliance was an important part of the system specification to allay stakeholder concerns around immediate access to frequently used data.

The Benefits

The cost-effectiveness of the Arkivum solution has meant that OMDC have opted to store all their FASTQ, BAM and VCF files to allow easy reanalysis of the data that is facilitating the creation of an optimal clinical bioinformatics pipeline. This in effect means that the solution is now storing 50% more data volume than originally planned thus reducing the load on local IT infrastructure storage and the costs associated with having these files in the backup window (and making the Arkivum system even more cost-effective).

As the Arkivum solution is based on a local gateway appliance that centralises the storage of the raw data and the range of files that facilitate data reanalysis, this in turn is making it easier for the OMDC to share data with other groups based in different locations within the Oxford University Hospital NHS Trust.

Having taken responsibility for the data they are producing, the OMDC has:

  • Led the way in an NHS Trust where no single entity has responsibility for data
  • Asserted that patient’s anonymised genomic data can be stored in a private cloud service specifically designed for secure data archiving
  • Opened up the possibility of providing a commercially viable service to other healthcare organisations and companies
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