February 15, 2016
The term Hosted SaaS (Software as a Service) is the present-day buzzword in the world of cloud computing and LIMS. In the recent years, it has gained prominence as an affordable alternative to the ever-growing IT expenses and a valuable service for biobanks, hospitals, academia, CROs and pharmaceutical industries to manage huge volumes of data using LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System). This system seamlessly manages the data generated from sample testing, instrument usage, automation and report generation. A SaaS application is hosted on a service provider's server (commonly known as the hosting center) and different users access it through a web browser on a monthly subscription. There are no product installation or maintenance requirements.
Many software vendors opt for the on-site software installations to deliver their product. In this practice, users initially pay a fixed licensing fee perhaps, accompanied with an annual maintenance fee, to download the product either through a web-link or installed directly from a CD/ DVD. The installed software has certain advantages over the hosted SaaS in terms of data control and security. Storing data on a local system gives the user a complete control over the data. Furthermore, the installed security software facilitates specific action measures. These advantages refrained researchers from uploading their data to any outside source.
However, recent advances in cloud computing strategies for secure data management and pay-as-you-go (PAYG) subscription models have greatly revolutionized the way software is delivered to the users. Many research organizations now upload massive volumes of data onto web servers. Internet popularity has made user-friendly SaaS programs an obvious choice for meeting the lab's operational needs.
Purchasing a traditional on-premise LIMS license along with IT the IT infrastructure requires a large capital outlay. A hosted SaaS model offers a cost-effective solution by providing researchers the flexibility to pay for the license at regular time intervals, on a monthly or yearly subscription.
These models significantly reduce the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) and provide paperless data management tools, thereby allowing rapid deployment and usage of the software product. The PAYG model, in particular, allows users/organization to pay only for the functionality required in the product along with data storage plans that meet their current requirements. As the operations scale up and require a more resource intensive application, users have the choice to upgrade their plans. Such benefits have effectively addressed the needs of small and medium organizations and laboratories, operating on tight budgets, to run their operations professionally.
Continuous in-flow of multi-factorial and heterogenous data makes conventional practices of manual data entry using spreadsheets and lab notebooks laborious and error prone. The data retrieval turns out to be even more cumbersome. In such cases, lab automation with appropriate data storage and tracking solutions becomes imperative. Cloud hosted automation tools streamline the day-to-day lab operations. Switching to cloud based SaaS LIMS also enhances the operational efficiency by eliminating the need for using paper and spreadsheets. This practice helps minimize downtime and provides faster, secure access to the lab's data.