Article Science Technology

Why cloud computing is important for data-driven bioscience research

Access to powerful compute resources via our cloud computing infrastructure enables bioscience research, collaboration, and innovation.

04 February 2022

By providing access to data storage, virtual machines and web hosting services here at the Earlham Institute, we’re ensuring the tools needed for data-driven science are open and accessible to any researcher in the UK that requires them.

Here are five ways cloud computing services can enable open, collaborative and democratised science.

1. Wider access to compute resources

The researchers of yesteryear could not have fathomed the scale and complexity of data that has become the norm for many life scientists today. Despite the rapid rise of ‘big data’, not all research groups have the luxury of on-site High Performance Computing, storage and easy-to-access servers.

Cloud-based virtual machines and data storage services can provide access to the compute power needed to analyse these large datasets. Although there are many options out there, some of the well-known commercial offerings can’t offer the same level of expert subject knowledge that enables us to offer bespoke solutions.

This combination of expertise and infrastructure is what makes services like CyVerse UK at the Earlham Institute so unique.


2. Make your research software available via web hosting services

If you’ve developed a bioinformatics tool or research software that can help other researchers - from command line data analysis to a publicly-available web service - it can be hosted on the cloud at very low cost. If you’re a UKRI-BBSRC funded researcher, it might even be free via CyVerse UK.

Using Docker and Singularity containers, CyVerse UK makes these tools usable across any operating system or device, opening access to a wider range of potential users and ensuring they have the maximum impact.

We currently expose many software tools in use by the bioinformatics community as packages that can be quickly made available through a virtual machine, removing the need to battle with installation and dependencies.

You can see an example list of hosted web services here.


CyVerse UK is making bioinformatics tools open to a wider range of users and ensuring they have the maximum impact.
Open Tools

3. Collaborative cloud computing

Scientific collaborations increasingly require shared access to compute systems and datasets. Cloud-based Trusted Research Environments can provide secure access to important bioinformatics tools and data management systems, many of which are central to large collaborative research efforts.

Examples include Grassroots Genomics, which underpins the Designing Future Wheat programme, as well as the data brokering service COPO, which underpins the Darwin Tree of Life Project.

If you’re interested in how cloud computing can support your collaborative research please get in touch with our team.


4. Our cloud computing services support open access, open science and reproducibility

More than 130 bioinformatics tools and resources are available pre-installed on our cloud here at the Earlham Institute, and are available to users of CyVerse UK free of charge.

With the CyVerse UK Data Store and Data Commons, collaborative data can be easily shared with other users and linked to a paper with a consistent URL, which aids reproducibility and open science.


Accessing digital tools helps to more easily share data with others, supporting open access and science.
Open Data

5. Support for data driven research by experts

We have a dedicated team of cloud computing specialists, as well as in-depth experience in data-driven bioscience research. We draw upon all of that expertise to not only drive our e-Infrastructure but also to provide advice and support to users.

In the era of data-driven bioscience, cloud computing has become fundamental - but is still under used or poorly understood by many researchers.

The e-Infrastructure team at the Earlham Institute have a wealth of experience in working with individuals and organisations to explore how cloud computing can support their research.


How to access our e-Infrastructure platforms.

Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you.

Collaborations: we can support projects at scale, including large cross-Institute research programmes such as Designing Future Wheat.

Research group support: we can host and maintain your software tools as an online service, and support your cloud hosting needs (cloud computing and system administration). We can give expert support while not increasing the time and cost overhead of your project.

Training: we provide training courses and workshops, and support training at Earlham Institute by provisioning VMs for this purpose. We host a Carpentries Trainer and five Instructors at the institute, running at least two carpentry workshops a year. Contact us if you would like to host a Software or Data Carpentry workshop at EI.

Open Science data: we are strong and active advocates of open, FAIR data which we believe is vital to build a sustainable future for data science. Our vision is to teach people how to generate and describe data well, and provide infrastructure, training and support so people can use and integrate data in their research.