Agile Computing Authors: Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Carmen Gonzalez, JP Morgenthal

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.

@ThingsExpo Stories
A completely new computing platform is on the horizon. They’re called Microservers by some, ARM Servers by others, and sometimes even ARM-based Servers. No matter what you call them, Microservers will have a huge impact on the data center and on server computing in general. Although few people are familiar with Microservers today, their impact will be felt very soon. This is a new category of computing platform that is available today and is predicted to have triple-digit growth rates for some ...
November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Penta Security is a leading vendor for data security solutions, including its encryption solution, D’Amo. By using FPE technology, D’Amo allows for the implementation of encryption technology to sensitive data fields without modification to schema in the database environment. With businesses having their data become increasingly more complicated in their mission-critical applications (such as ERP, CRM, HRM), continued ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudbric, a leading website security provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloudbric is an elite full service website protection solution specifically designed for IT novices, entrepreneurs, and small and medium businesses. First launched in 2015, Cloudbric is based on the enterprise level Web Application Firewall by Penta Security Sys...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their online busine...
WebRTC adoption has generated a wave of creative uses of communications and collaboration through websites, sales apps, customer care and business applications. As WebRTC has become more mainstream it has evolved to use cases beyond the original peer-to-peer case, which has led to a repeating requirement for interoperability with existing infrastructures. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Graham Holt, Executive Vice President of Daitan Group, will cover implementation examples that have enabled ea...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Roundee / LinearHub will exhibit at the WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LinearHub provides Roundee Service, a smart platform for enterprise video conferencing with enhanced features such as automatic recording and transcription service. Slack users can integrate Roundee to their team via Slack’s App Directory, and '/roundee' command lets your video conference ...
Enterprise IT has been in the era of Hybrid Cloud for some time now. But it seems most conversations about Hybrid are focused on integrating AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google ECM into existing on-premises systems. Where is all the Private Cloud? What do technology providers need to do to make their offerings more compelling? How should enterprise IT executives and buyers define their focus, needs, and roadmap, and communicate that clearly to the providers?
In the next forty months – just over three years – businesses will undergo extraordinary changes. The exponential growth of digitization and machine learning will see a step function change in how businesses create value, satisfy customers, and outperform their competition. In the next forty months companies will take the actions that will see them get to the next level of the game called Capitalism. Or they won’t – game over. The winners of today and tomorrow think differently, follow different...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Sheng Liang to Keynote at SYS-CON's 19th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1-3, 2016 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In past @ThingsExpo presentations, Joseph di Paolantonio has explored how various Internet of Things (IoT) and data management and analytics (DMA) solution spaces will come together as sensor analytics ecosystems. This year, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Joseph di Paolantonio from DataArchon, will be adding the numerous Transportation areas, from autonomous vehicles to “Uber for containers.” While IoT data in any one area of Transportation will have a huge impact in that area, combining sensor...
Established in 1998, Calsoft is a leading software product engineering Services Company specializing in Storage, Networking, Virtualization and Cloud business verticals. Calsoft provides End-to-End Product Development, Quality Assurance Sustenance, Solution Engineering and Professional Services expertise to assist customers in achieving their product development and business goals. The company's deep domain knowledge of Storage, Virtualization, Networking and Cloud verticals helps in delivering ...
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
In the next five to ten years, millions, if not billions of things will become smarter. This smartness goes beyond connected things in our homes like the fridge, thermostat and fancy lighting, and into heavily regulated industries including aerospace, pharmaceutical/medical devices and energy. “Smartness” will embed itself within individual products that are part of our daily lives. We will engage with smart products - learning from them, informing them, and communicating with them. Smart produc...
In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, will discuss the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docke...