The digitisation of pathology practices that involve, in some shape or form, creating and using images, is revolutionising how pathologists work. This is in part due to the fact that the pathologists now no longer need to be physically in the same place as the images. Now that images are being created using digital equipment such as whole slide imaging (WSI) scanners, the pathologists can work remotely. And they can collaborate, ask for second opinions, compare images from different specimens or different patients – all remotely. This is all increasing efficiency, lowering costs and most importantly, improving patient care.
Images are large
WSI scanners are, however, efficient beasts and can process many hundreds of slides a day – and this generates rather a lot of data.
As you can see form the table, even a modest scanner will generate 15 TB a year. Add to the fact that the images need to be kept for at least 10 years and you have a significant storage challenge.
Images are static
However, knowing that the images themselves are not going to change (they are static), they don’t need to be stored on traditional, costly, ‘primary’ storage that is typically backed up to more costly local storage (or maybe tape). It’s often the case that implementation plans for digital pathology processes like WSI stumble when the costs of data storage come up. This is usually because the data is treated, by local IT, as the same as all other data – and consider increasing the capacity of their primary storage infrastructure to accommodate the planned (large) volumes of data. And this in turn requires a hugely increased backup storage capability (to backup the new primary storage capacity).
There is another way though.
As WSI data is static, it doesn’t need to be on storage that is part of the backup window – it can be ‘backed up’ as a side benefit of using a specialist managed service specifically designed for handling large volumes of static data. Such a solution provides a lot of benefits to projects that, for example, are implementing WSI for digital pathology:
- Cost effective. Typically 10x cheaper than primary storage + backup infrastructure
- Guaranteed data integrity. The managed service stores multiple copies of the data to provide the guarantee and solves the backup problem too
- Deployable in days. And very flexible CapEx or OpEx purchasing models
- Scalable with extra capacity instantly available. And you only pay for what you use
If you’d like to get more info, have a look at our Managing Big Data white paper.