The pharma industry, incorporating start up biotechs and multinational corporations, is increasingly collaborating with global partners and trimming R&D budgets and this requires a change in operational practices.
One option is the use of software-as-a-service (SAAS) as this cuts initial capital requirements, removes the need for servers and associated maintenance and can be implemented quickly.
Furthermore, SAAS makes it easier for companies to collaborate transparently with partners and this is a key aspect of rising demand, John McCarthy, vice president product management and strategy, explained to Outsourcing-Pharma.
Speaking at AAPS 2009 McCarthy said that giving a partner, who could be located on the other side of the world, access to in-house software can be a costly and time consuming process.
Given pharma’s reliance on partners, and need to cut the time and cost of development, McCarthy believes SAAS is an attractive option. Using this system a company can easily request a partner is given access to certain parts of the software and block them when finished.
Driven by client demand for this model Symyx has made available a hosted version of its Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN), which it has made and marketed for many years for use on pharma's in-house servers.
The twin drivers of collaboration and cost are supported by increasing acceptance of the security of hosted services. Pharma is understandably keen to ensure its data and intellectual property are secure and this led to some being wary of using software hosted on external servers.
However, acceptance of hosted software has “changed quite rapidly” over the past year, according to McCarthy who believes that other industries’ use of SAAS has reassured pharma.
Furthermore, McCarthy believes the seven years experience Symyx has of hosting its Discovery Gate software demonstrates to clients that the platform is scalable and the company will deliver.
McCarthy added that its platform has been developed to work with “very stringent constraints” from pharma to ensure server uptime and security. Symyx is also performing ethical hacking to test the platform.
These attributes appear to have impressed some companies. Since launching its SAAS ELN in September Symyx has been in discussions with several biotechs and has also been approached by top 10 pharmas about hosting other pieces of software on its system.