Enhancing Genomic Analysis with Hybrid Cloud: A Microsoft Azure Perspective

This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: New blog articles in Microsoft Community Hub.


In the rapidly advancing field of genomics, managing and analyzing vast amounts of genomic data has become a critical challenge. The article titled "Enhancing Genomic Analysis with Hybrid Cloud" explores how a hybrid cloud approach, particularly leveraging Microsoft Azure services, can significantly accelerate secondary genomic analysis. 




The article delves into the complexities of secondary genomic analysis and introduces the hybrid cloud model, which seamlessly integrates on-premises infrastructure with the powerful capabilities of Microsoft Azure. Microsoft Azure , Pure Storage, and Illumina conducted testing in Equinix’s Dallas data center utilizing Equinix Metal to determine the benefits and challenges of a hybrid cloud infrastructure. 


Solution and Architecture


  • Illumina DRAGEN (dynamic read analysis for genomics) provides accurate, comprehensive, and efficient secondary analysis of NGS data.   


  • Azure CycleCloud orchestrates a traditional HPC cluster (ie. Slurm for this testing) and enables autoscaling the Azure NP series virtual machines (VMs) with the AMD/Xilinx Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) acceleration card that enables Illumina DRAGEN processing. 


  • Pure Storage FlashBlade is an all-flash, consolidated data storage solution for both file and object workloads. FlashBlade is designed to support data-heavy, unstructured workloads efficiently, providing unequaled density, capacity, and performance. 


  • Equinix is the world’s digital infrastructure company, enabling digital leaders to fast-track competitive advantage across clouds, networking, storage, compute, and software. 


  • Pure Storage on Equinix Metal with FlashBlade embedded provides a high-performance, full-stack, hosted bare-metal infrastructure platform. Enterprises can take advantage of the platform to build best-of-breed, cost-optimized, hybrid-cloud solutions. The platform is fully interconnected with every major public-cloud provider. It features more than 356,000 global interconnects to nearly every telecom and ISP provider, creating a true hybrid/multi cloud environment with unparalleled performance. 


  • The Equinix Metal platform embeds the full portfolio of Pure Storage products, including FlashArray™, FlashBlade®, and Portworx®. The solution enables native block, file, object, and container storage on dedicated, bare-metal hardware, physically managed by Equinix Metal. Simplify data storage and infrastructure management into a single fully integrated, on-demand platform. Reimagine the cloud journey and accelerate business and digital transformation. Gain the flexible infrastructure to quickly respond to changing business needs and to help unlock critical business insights. 





Architecture – Hybrid cloud 


Azure highlights


The article highlights Microsoft Azure's role in enabling an efficient hybrid cloud approach for genomics: 

  •    Azure Virtual Machines: Researchers can deploy and manage virtual machines (VMs) on Azure to handle compute-intensive tasks. 
  •    Azure CylceCloud:  IT can orchestrate a traditional HPC job scheduler and cluster (ie. Slurm, PBS, GridEngine, etc) and incorporate compute node autoscaling to control costs.  Researchers can utilize known job submission scripts to minimize changes to workflow. 

Other Azure Compute infrastructure


  •   Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS): Azure AKS assists in orchestrating containerized applications, enhancing scalability and ease of deployment. 
  •   Azure Batch:  A cloud native HPC job scheduler that can be incorporated with external workflow engines (ie. Cromwell and Nextflow) or integrated into existing code for job submissions. 


Advantages of Azure for hybrid cloud for Genomic Analysis


  •    Seamless Scalability:  Azure's elasticity enables researchers to scale resources up or down based on analysis demands. 
  •    Flexibility:  New technology (ie. latest GPU) or capabilities (ie. new compute queue) can be added almost instantly. 
  •    Cost Efficiency: Pay-as-you-go pricing minimizes infrastructure costs while maximizing performance during peak periods. 
  •    Security and Compliance: Azure's robust security measures ensure data protection, compliance with regulations, and privacy. 


Challenges and Considerations


   Potential challenges include data privacy, data transfer (using Express Routes), integration complexities, and management of hybrid environments. 




The article concludes by highlighting how leveraging Microsoft Azure's hybrid cloud capabilities can revolutionize secondary genomic analysis. By integrating on-premises infrastructure with Azure's powerful services, researchers can unlock new insights, expedite research, and drive innovation in the field of genomics. 


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