There is a trend of many Laboratory Management Information Systems (LIMS) and Biobank Information Management systems (BIMS) migrating to the cloud. You might be wondering why this is so or if the trend will continue for years to come.
Apart from all the benefits you stand to gain from any LIMS platform, a cloud-based one pushes them further, giving you some unique benefits that we will explore below.
Check out how a cloud-based LIMS can help streamline your laboratory operations, make them more secure and guarantee improved efficiency. But first, we need to understand what a cloud LIMS is.
What is a Cloud LIMS?
You can store the data of your LIMS either on-premises or in the cloud. LIMS systems that use cloud technologies for storage and other operations are cloud-based. Cloud storage gives access to data from multiple systems across multiple locations simultaneously. Once you set up user profiles for all relevant stakeholders, everyone in your laboratory can simultaneously work in real-time and ensure data security.
Cloud-based usually falls into two categories.
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) LIMS
PaaS LIMS system takes away the infrastructure and daily burden that on-premises systems typically have. PaaS gives you the ability to configure the system as you wish to have total control and power to optimise the system as you deem fit. PaaS lets you focus on your laboratory operations without worrying about the infrastructure or computing details. You can build your PaaS system as a fully custom unit that aligns with your laboratory processes no matter how complex it is.
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) LIMS
These are the fastest solution to deploy, and you get the full extent of its services from day one. SaaS solutions will give you infrastructure and day-to-day maintenance by the industry’s best practices. You will get SaaS systems preconfigured from the sellers to match your needs and run on a subscription payment system. This can give you significant cost savings and removes the need for validations or upgrades as they are a part of the subscription.
Benefits of Using a Cloud-Based LIMS System
Check out the advantages you stand to gain from using a LIMS system
Since you aren’t buying physical servers, licences or any extensive configuration, you can get most cloud-based LIMS systems running in less than two weeks. LIMS systems like LABA use a low-code platform that gives you extensive capabilities for configuration and customisation so you can make it fit your laboratory operations and processes.
Installation is as simple as plug and play as soon as you have customised your LIMS to suit your laboratory. Depending on the complexity of your lab’s processes and the systems you need to integrate with your LIMS, the implementation may take longer for some than others. No matter how long it takes to implement, it is still a shorter time frame than it takes to implement on-premises LIMS.
Also, since you only pay for what you consume or need instantly, implementations have no capital expenses. You can choose to expand your service offerings without any hassle or hefty implementation fees.
Data Backup and Recovery
Laboratories typically process large volumes of data which requires a lot of storage and redundant backup in the case of corruption. On-device storage risks permanent deletion, especially when the software or hardware crashes. On the other hand, Cloud backups copy your data to multiple servers for redundancy, so you have reliable backup anytime you need to recover. The cloud’s storage is also near-infinite, so you don’t have to bother with repeated purchases of storage disks.
When you have access to your information online, it is relatively easy to recover from incidents like fire, cyber-attacks and other natural hazards. There is no need for any initial investments with the cloud or waiting for long periods before you can access your cloud storage. Also, your LIMS service provider will be responsible for the storage and security of your data backups.
Reduced IT Costs
If you want to deploy a traditional on-premise LIMS system, it can be quite costly and take a lot of time before you get running. You have to put aside a lot of capital expenditure to use an on-prem LIMS system. Today, traditional advancements have made it unnecessary to use this method because of the high cost. You have to spend a lot of money on servers, IT departments, integrations, software and upgrade, which can add up to a sizable amount.
Using cloud-based platforms significantly lowers your costs, and it is cheaper for laboratories to host operations on these platforms. With cloud-based LIMS systems, you don’t have to buy different software, perform upgrades, or deal with the fine-grained operations of these systems. The installation costs are minimal, with little to no maintenance, licence, and zero upgrade costs.
Cloud-based LIMS removes the need for in-house data lakes, servers and all the associated costs that come with it. You only pay a subscription fee to use the services.
Better Collaboration Across Teams
On-premise LIMS systems limit your collaboration to when all the affected stakeholders are in the lab, hampering the extent of cooperation. Cloud-based LIMS makes collaboration easy and accessible so teams can work asynchronously on projects seamlessly in and out of the lab. Cloud systems allow each team member to make real-time changes to ongoing projects, share information and use a central database.
We cannot overstate the importance of this collaboration feature, as teams across countries on different continents can work on the same projects simultaneously as long as they have internet access. You can take this further by integrating your system with existing operating systems and accessing your data across multiple devices. This is far more important today after the effects of COVID-19 have made remote working more widespread across organisations.
If you do not already have a LIMS system in place, a cloud-based one will give you a fast and cost-effective way to get your system up and running. However, if you are currently running on an on-prem LIMS solution, switching to a cloud-based LIMS will make your lab data more manageable. Your team will be able to work collaboratively and under better conditions without worrying about the overhead of your system’s infrastructure.