Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Pat Romanski, Jason Bloomberg, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Kong Yang

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Agile Computing, @BigDataExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Case Study

Case Study: Implementing a Cloud-Based Information Management System

Cloud-based information management helps pharmaceutical startup optimize the management of their FDA submission documents

In the pharmaceutical industry, the drug development clock is ticking at the rate of warp-speed. As a result, companies are constantly looking for solutions to help them accelerate time to market - and many are realizing that implementing a cloud-based information management system can bring much needed clarity, organization and efficiency to the complex documentation processes and protocols required to bring a drug to market.

One such company is Singapore-based Lypanosys, an early-stage pharmaceutical company developing a clinically differentiated drug for the dermatology market. Blaine Ah Yuk-Winters, the project manager of the geographically dispersed pharmaceutical startup, describes Lypanosys as a virtual company in the sense that its manufacturing, preclinical, and clinical development activities are spread across the US, Asia, and Australia.

Addressing the Documentation Challenges within the Pharmaceutical Industry
According to a survey by the consulting group Ovum, pharmaceutical companies are ahead of other industries when it comes to adopting enterprise applications, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, but lag behind in the adoption of business intelligence solutions such as regulatory tracking/management systems that can harness data more productively. Furthermore, an FDA CTD/eCTD (Electronic Common Technical Document) quality reviewer survey noted that only about half of sponsors do a good or excellent job in organizing documents according to CTD best practices.

While this may help explain why some pharmaceutical firms have been slow to implement hosted document and data management systems, Lypanosys is the sort of international venture that cloud computing was invented for.

"We found a solution that enables us to get all of our files into a cloud-based enterprise content management system, which we can access wherever we are," said Ah Yuk-Winters.

The cloud has worked well Lypanosys so far. All of the company's documents reside on a hosted server and can be easily shared among project participants regardless of location. As a result, Lypanosys can operate virtually - or "office-lessly."

The Implications and Repercussions of Poor Information Management
Poor information management can create a bottleneck for companies on multiple levels, as well as add unnecessary cost burdens. For example, take the cost of storage: failing to manage data appropriately results in the retention of redundant information and records, which occupies storage space within a system. There's also the time-cost associated with chasing down information needed to meet regulatory requirements or to make an important business decision.

According to Ah Yuk-Winters, these were important considerations during Lypanosys' evaluation of various cloud-based information management systems. Unfortunately, many cloud offerings, such as the first one Lypanosys tried, are frustratingly slow.

"With the other system we tried, it was not so much the time it took uploading and downloading documents, it was the time it took maneuvering inside the interface. It was quite sluggish. When you clicked on a folder, it would often take 15 seconds to open."

The initial cloud system Lypanosys deployed structured files in multiple levels of traditional folders and subfolders. To get to a file they wanted, users could have to wait several minutes for the interface to open the final folder location - not including the time to download the document.

"We just couldn't employ the system for daily use," added Ah Yuk-Winters.

However, the system Lypanosys ultimately selected and deployed, M-Files, delivered the required performance at both the users' desktop interface as well as its remotely hosted servers.

The solution integrates its document and workflow controls in Windows Explorer and Microsoft Office as well as any other Windows application, so the way information is saved and retrieved is already familiar to most PC users. And because its search capability is based on efficient indexed metadata and "full text" content - rather than traditional folder structures - users can sort through content and find the files or other important information they need in seconds. Even with larger files, such as submission documents for the FDA, M-Files' unique caching and server synchronization capabilities enable silent and quick uploading in the background, so users can move on to other tasks. The result is performance that feels like the system is running on users' local PCs, yet information actually resides in the cloud.

"One of our directors needed a report to provide to a potential investor. He was actually in an airport in transit in Asia and was able to quickly locate the file and send it off. He was impressed with how easily that went. We are very happy with the system's responsiveness," continued Ah Yuk-Winters.

On the server side, the information management system runs on the Windows Azure cloud platform, which operates from Microsoft data centers around the globe. With the Windows Azure platform, the system delivers flexibility and reliability to users, whether they're in Auckland or Ankara.

"For accessing content, it's really quite fast," says Ah Yuk-Winters. "The searching and retrieving features are great. The way you can sort documents into different types and groups with metadata is fantastic."

Keeping Order in the Cloud
A significant advantage of cloud-based systems lies in their reliability and scalability. Raw storage without other information management capabilities, such as solutions offered by popular file sharing services like Dropbox and Box, can quickly turn into a disorderly mess of folders, just as it does with on-site "on-premise" servers when traditional Windows folder structures are used for categorizing and storing documents.

An effective hosted information management solution can manage hundreds of thousands -- and even millions - of documents. Managed documents and other types of information can range from lab notebook entries, study data, biomarkers, formulation studies, and statistical analyses to GLP (Good Laboratory Practice) compliance documents, patent analyses, market research, patent filings, product commercial path scenarios, IND (Investigational New Drug) submission strategies, toxicology reports, templates, and the list goes on and on...

A cloud-based document and information management solution should also provide collaboration features, such as the ability to easily share files with internal employees or external partners and check-in/check-out to manage document creation and editing in a team environment, as well as workflow features for automating business processes, the ability to quickly scan paper documents into the system with optical character recognition (OCR) to create searchable PDF files, a user-friendly interface, tracking/audit trail features, support for compliance with regulations such as FDA 21 CFR Part 11, EU GMP Annex 11, etc., version management for tracking document and information history, reporting features and compatibility with training software controls. The system should also be compatible with existing legacy enterprise systems, such as ERP and CRM solutions.

Lypanosys found a solution that addressed these critical needs, and as a result, was able to bring order and efficiency to their chaotic document and information universe by organizing and indexing every item in the centralized cloud repository. The solution also featured flexible yet strict access permissions functionality and a complete compulsory version history for everything.

"M-Files saved us a lot of time over what we had going on with just a folder structure," says Ah Yuk-Winters. "Before, when we had to submit a filing to the FDA it was difficult to find the relevant documentation we needed. There were duplicates everywhere. Trying to find a document and not knowing which version was the latest was a nightmare. Automatic versioning is essential when you have multiple people in different locations revising the same work."

Flexible permission controls also enable Lypanosys to authorize third-party consultants and advisors to sign in to the company's system to access selected materials and then save their own versions of documents, without the risk of upsetting organizational processes.

"The ability to share files with consultants overseas has proved very handy. They can pull files whenever they want at any time they want."

Realizing the Benefits of Hosted Information Management
An information management system can help pharmaceutical companies and related organizations become more responsive by making it easy and fast to locate the latest version of any document or information object, dramatically reducing the time associated with document requests, audits, and submissions. It can also help enforce security, protect and archive institutional knowledge, and streamline regulatory compliance procedures. Personnel resources are also conserved by reducing the need to handle and store paper.

With an effective information management system in place, pharmaceutical companies can literally shave years off the drug development clock by getting all company documentation, information and processes under control, while also providing insight and business intelligence into how information is being used and where company processes can be improved. This proactive approach towards information management, process automation and consistent tracking leads to higher quality reviews and efficient, successful audits, greatly reducing the risk of noncompliance while providing 100% traceability of all documents, records and cases across the organization.

Couldn't all this be done with a traditional on-premise solution too? Yes, it could, but the cloud changes the equation by eliminating the need to purchase and configure servers, as well as reducing the IT resources needed to maintain them. Further it reduces upfront costs, allowing organizations to pay for cloud solutions with smaller, more manageable monthly payments.

If your organization is experiencing challenges with managing and finding information, or could benefit from improving the way submissions and audits are handled, a modern information management system can help - and the cloud provides a compelling alternative that eliminates barriers that may have prevented implementing such a system in the past.

More Stories By David Stanley

David Stanley is the QMS Product Manager at M-Files Corporation. M-Files enterprise information management (EIM) solutions eliminate information silos and provide quick and easy access to the right content from any core business system and device. Thousands of businesses in over 100 countries use M-Files on-premise, in the cloud or in hybrid environments to improve productivity and quality, and to ensure compliance with industry regulations and standards. For more information, visit www.m-files.com.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists looked at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deliver...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Lachapelle, CEO of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), provided an overview of various initiatives to certify the security of connected devices and future trends in ensuring public trust of IoT. Eric Lachapelle is the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), an international certification body. His role is to help companies and individuals to achieve professional, accredited and worldwide re...
Both SaaS vendors and SaaS buyers are going “all-in” to hyperscale IaaS platforms such as AWS, which is disrupting the SaaS value proposition. Why should the enterprise SaaS consumer pay for the SaaS service if their data is resident in adjacent AWS S3 buckets? If both SaaS sellers and buyers are using the same cloud tools, automation and pay-per-transaction model offered by IaaS platforms, then why not host the “shrink-wrapped” software in the customers’ cloud? Further, serverless computing, cl...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
Join us at Cloud Expo June 6-8 to find out how to securely connect your cloud app to any cloud or on-premises data source – without complex firewall changes. More users are demanding access to on-premises data from their cloud applications. It’s no longer a “nice-to-have” but an important differentiator that drives competitive advantages. It’s the new “must have” in the hybrid era. Users want capabilities that give them a unified view of the data to get closer to customers and grow business. The...
The current age of digital transformation means that IT organizations must adapt their toolset to cover all digital experiences, beyond just the end users’. Today’s businesses can no longer focus solely on the digital interactions they manage with employees or customers; they must now contend with non-traditional factors. Whether it's the power of brand to make or break a company, the need to monitor across all locations 24/7, or the ability to proactively resolve issues, companies must adapt to...
It is ironic, but perhaps not unexpected, that many organizations who want the benefits of using an Agile approach to deliver software use a waterfall approach to adopting Agile practices: they form plans, they set milestones, and they measure progress by how many teams they have engaged. Old habits die hard, but like most waterfall software projects, most waterfall-style Agile adoption efforts fail to produce the results desired. The problem is that to get the results they want, they have to ch...
Wooed by the promise of faster innovation, lower TCO, and greater agility, businesses of every shape and size have embraced the cloud at every layer of the IT stack – from apps to file sharing to infrastructure. The typical organization currently uses more than a dozen sanctioned cloud apps and will shift more than half of all workloads to the cloud by 2018. Such cloud investments have delivered measurable benefits. But they’ve also resulted in some unintended side-effects: complexity and risk. ...
The taxi industry never saw Uber coming. Startups are a threat to incumbents like never before, and a major enabler for startups is that they are instantly “cloud ready.” If innovation moves at the pace of IT, then your company is in trouble. Why? Because your data center will not keep up with frenetic pace AWS, Microsoft and Google are rolling out new capabilities. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture at Turner, posited that disruption is inevitable for comp...
In 2014, Amazon announced a new form of compute called Lambda. We didn't know it at the time, but this represented a fundamental shift in what we expect from cloud computing. Now, all of the major cloud computing vendors want to take part in this disruptive technology. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Doug Vanderweide, an instructor at Linux Academy, discussed why major players like AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, and Google Cloud Platform are all trying to sidestep VMs and containers wit...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
No hype cycles or predictions of zillions of things here. IoT is big. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, Associate Partner at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data analytics considerations, edge-to-cloud tec...
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists examined how DevOps helps to meet the de...
When growing capacity and power in the data center, the architectural trade-offs between server scale-up vs. scale-out continue to be debated. Both approaches are valid: scale-out adds multiple, smaller servers running in a distributed computing model, while scale-up adds fewer, more powerful servers that are capable of running larger workloads. It’s worth noting that there are additional, unique advantages that scale-up architectures offer. One big advantage is large memory and compute capacity...
The Internet giants are fully embracing AI. All the services they offer to their customers are aimed at drawing a map of the world with the data they get. The AIs from these companies are used to build disruptive approaches that cannot be used by established enterprises, which are threatened by these disruptions. However, most leaders underestimate the effect this will have on their businesses. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rene Buest, Director Market Research & Technology Evangelism at Ara...
Cloud applications are seeing a deluge of requests to support the exploding advanced analytics market. “Open analytics” is the emerging strategy to deliver that data through an open data access layer, in the cloud, to be directly consumed by external analytics tools and popular programming languages. An increasing number of data engineers and data scientists use a variety of platforms and advanced analytics languages such as SAS, R, Python and Java, as well as frameworks such as Hadoop and Spark...
"We are a monitoring company. We work with Salesforce, BBC, and quite a few other big logos. We basically provide monitoring for them, structure for their cloud services and we fit into the DevOps world" explained David Gildeh, Co-founder and CEO of Outlyer, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Automation is enabling enterprises to design, deploy, and manage more complex, hybrid cloud environments. Yet the people who manage these environments must be trained in and understanding these environments better than ever before. A new era of analytics and cognitive computing is adding intelligence, but also more complexity, to these cloud environments. How smart is your cloud? How smart should it be? In this power panel at 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, paneli...
"When we talk about cloud without compromise what we're talking about is that when people think about 'I need the flexibility of the cloud' - it's the ability to create applications and run them in a cloud environment that's far more flexible,” explained Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Cloud promises the agility required by today’s digital businesses. As organizations adopt cloud based infrastructures and services, their IT resources become increasingly dynamic and hybrid in nature. Managing these require modern IT operations and tools. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Raj Sundaram, Senior Principal Product Manager at CA Technologies, will discuss how to modernize your IT operations in order to proactively manage your hybrid cloud and IT environments. He will be sharing bes...