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Thermo Fisher Scientific, the world leader in serving science, announced the opening of a new “Software Engineering” centre of excellence in Bengaluru. The new facility would enable the company to expand its expertise in cloud computing technologies and specific platforms such as advanced Java, Spring, .NET, WCF, WPF, Python, Angular JS and statistical programming frameworks.
This facility is home to more than 250 software engineers and will serve as an extension of Thermo Fisher’s Software R&D teams while enhancing its responsiveness to the needs of customers globally. Cloud computing is a recent technological development with the potential to significantly change lab workflows and facilitate access to powerful data analysis techniques. Currently, scientists are experiencing the benefits with Thermo Fisher Cloud applications, presenting solutions to analyze the data from several technologies including CE (capillary electrophoresis) and qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction) instruments for gene expression, genotyping and Sanger sequencing.
Inaugurated on 20th Jan 2016, by Mark Field, vice president and chief technology officer, Thermo Fisher, and Amit Chopra, managing director and VP/GM, Thermo Fisher Scientific India, they looked proud and happy at the opening up of this facility.
Mark Field commented that “Thermo Fisher’s Software Engineering centre of excellence allows us to provide the world-class software and cloud computing service that the scientific community demands. We are strongly committed to growing the software engineering team in Bengaluru, where we are able to attract world’s top software engineering talent.”
Amit Chopra added that “Cloud-based computing solutions are revolutionizing the way our customers accelerate their research and improve productivity and collaboration, providing benefits such as superior data security, unmatched collaboration and applications access and simplified sharing and analysis.”
Further in an exclusive conversation with BioTecNika magazine, we have excerpts from Mr. Mark Field and Mr. Amit Chopra as below:
Mark Field– Thermo Fisher has the leading platform for science in cloud called Thermo Fisher Cloud. It is a platform that connects scientists and allows them to manage their data and provide the software and super computing infrustructure to analyze the data in the cloud.
MF- We are very excited about what the cloud offers. And combining the technologies of cloud computing and internet of things, we are able to deliver capabilities that can analyze data in minutes where it might previously take hours. It also enables scientists all over the globe to collaborate using a secure cloud platform. So not only will it accelerate science in a lab and accelerate productivity, but it will also help with innovation and collaboration.
Amit Chopra- It will be transformational in the a way science will be conducted in future. And as Mark pointed out, it will enable better collaboration, has tremendously powerful analytics, and offers the ability to access latest technologies in software platforms and applications instantaneously, which will truly revolutionize the way science is conducted and innovation is done.
AC- Absolutely, there are hundreds who have already signed up. Globally there are thousands.
MF- More than 5,500 organization globally have signed up with us.
MF- We put a lot of time and effort to make sure that it is user friendly. I think we have done an absolutely marvellous job. We have a user experience design team who have been fully engaged into the cloud projects from the beginning and usability is one of the key things. Our customers give us a good feedback, and so far we have received excellent comments about the usability. Scientific software is not consumer-facing. But making it easy-to- use, even for scientists, is important to us and that’s why we spend a lot of time on making it user friendly.
The needs of our customers are evolving in a manner where they must collaborate and be able to access powerful applications. They must have analytics at their fingertips, and instruments must be interconnected and workflows shared. This is where the industry is headed, so we are too.. –Amit Chopra.
MF- Well, I think that “free” is extremely affordable. Most of the digital products are free to customers: with Thermo Fisher cloud we give a very generous 10 gigabytes of free cloud storage, and if you use our NGS with other instruments that can be as much as one terabyte of free storage. Most of the analysis applications are also free. We do have some paid apps, but they have a very generous six month free trial to allow scientists to use it and try it. We have done everything we can to ensure that price is not an adoption barrier.
MF- We take safety, security and privacy extremely seriously. We have partnered with some of the leading organizations to ensure that our cloud is meets industry requirements. We have employed security experts who are dedicated to security architecture and make sure that the data stored is secure. That being said, there can always be bad actors, so our partners are helping us make sure that we maintain security and follow necessary technical measures to secure the data stored.
AC- I wouldn’t necessarily want to comment on competition and what competition would do. On the scale that we are operating in our industry, I think we are fairly unique in terms of breadth and scale of capabilities offered.
MF- Initially, when we understood that we needed to have a very big cloud presence and that a scientific platform was required for the company and our customers, we focused on how we would go about this. We initially looked at where we should build our data centre, understanding that it would require an enormous amount of effort and resources from the company. This includes both financial and human resources needed to run a cloud at scale to support the global scientific community. And so we looked at whom could we partner with to do that, and we selected Amazon. That happened a few years ago. After months of conversation with Amazon executives, we realized that there are a lot of commonalities between where Amazon Web Services was going and how they wanted to provide these capabilities to companies like ours so that we can do this kind of work. This partnership has developed over the past couple of years and its one of the strongest IT partnerships that we have. And I can say nothing but positive things about Amazon about how they have helped us develop the cloud service.
AC- Amazon provides the infrastructure and the application and management is done by us. So the backbone of the cloud is what Amazon provides and they do it for other clients as well.
AC- If you look at the instrumentation and analytical technologies that we have been developing, they all come with embedded software. Increasingly, technologies in the pharmaceutical industry are being networked. Today, some pharma companies have hundreds of high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) instruments, and they would want them to be networked. U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations, for example, require these instruments to be very tightly monitored and audited. So increasingly, the software part of instrumentation has become as important as the hardware part.
When you look at the importance of interconnectedness and collaboration, someone who is doing genomic analysis specific to India may want to connect online and in real time with scientists doing the same thing in the leading institutions in the U.S. and other parts of the world. Oncologists who are developing precision medicine diagnostics and therapies in the U.S. may want to collaborate with oncologists in India to understand how that can help Indian patients. So, the needs of our customers are evolving in a manner where they must collaborate and be able to access powerful applications. They must have analytics at their fingertips, and instruments must be interconnected and workflows shared. This is where the industry is headed, so we are too.
We are very excited about what the cloud offers. And combining the technologies of cloud computing and internet of things, we are able to deliver capabilities that can analyze data in minutes where it might previously take hours. – Mark Field.
MF- Absolutely! This is the global software centre of excellence for the company. I visited this new facility for the first time, and I was just so impressed that the vision we had three years back is now real. You can see how excited and happy the employees are to be in this world-class facility. Yes, we will keep growing. We have close to 250 software engineers in this site and we plan to grow further.
Our Technology Development Centre, also in Bengaluru, is growing too, and it is really focused internally on the company’s IT capabilities. This site, on the other hand, is focused externally on the capabilities that we need to deliver to our customers’ sites so that they can do their work.
AC- I want to make a couple of points here. One is that this is the continued demonstration of Thermo Fisher’s commitment to investing in India and, of course, in the confidence we have in the talent in India and the capabilities that we have built here already. So, not only are we a commercially focused organization, including sales, service and marketing, but also that we are committed to R&D capabilities, evident by this facility in Bengaluru and another in Hyderabad. We have significant manufacturing footprint across chemicals, environmental instruments, liquid handling instruments, analytical instruments and pharmaceutical clinical trial packaging, and now we’re investing in a technology development and software excellence through our global centres. So you can see that there is 360-degree approach to investing in India to build our all-round capabilities. We are long-term player in the market and are leveraging the talent that is here in India. And then we have our Prime Minister’s Make in India campaign. And we’re going beyond Make in India to “Innovate in India” as well.
AC- I don’t want to go into specifics, but over the last 5-6 years,we have invested close to 125 million dollars in India, and these investments have happened in building manufacturing infrastructure, commercial and R&D infrastructure, IT systems, technology development and our Software Centre of Excellence.
MF- Our current focus is on the facility in Bengaluru.
AC- We are committed to India, and this centre is important for India, as well as our operations globally. We are proud of what we’ve accomplished here.
MF- I am very proud and also very appreciative of it. There have been several years of effort and its working incredibly well. We are finding amazing talent in India and in Bengaluru. This has been an absolute transformation.
Shekhar Suman is a Serial Entrepreneur and the Co-Founder of Biotecnika. Magazine is a way he wants to recraft the way industry opines and expresses its views. With years of experience under his belt, he captains the ship with prudence and perfection. He is the chief-editor of Biotecnika Magazine and a big inspiration to the bio-community.
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