Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Stefan Bernbo, Elizabeth White, TJ Randall

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
It's easy to assume that your app will run on a fast and reliable network. The reality for your app's users, though, is often a slow, unreliable network with spotty coverage. What happens when the network doesn't work, or when the device is in airplane mode? You get unhappy, frustrated users. An offline-first app is an app that works, without error, when there is no network connection. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, a Developer Advocate with IBM Cloud Data Services, discussed...
Between 2005 and 2020, data volumes will grow by a factor of 300 – enough data to stack CDs from the earth to the moon 162 times. This has come to be known as the ‘big data’ phenomenon. Unfortunately, traditional approaches to handling, storing and analyzing data aren’t adequate at this scale: they’re too costly, slow and physically cumbersome to keep up. Fortunately, in response a new breed of technology has emerged that is cheaper, faster and more scalable. Yet, in meeting these new needs they...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, director/senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busin...
According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.
"We are the public cloud providers. We are currently providing 50% of the resources they need for doing e-commerce business in China and we are hosting about 60% of mobile gaming in China," explained Yi Zheng, CPO and VP of Engineering at CDS Global Cloud, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 6-8, 2017 at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Predictive analytics tools monitor, report, and troubleshoot in order to make proactive decisions about the health, performance, and utilization of storage. Most enterprises combine cloud and on-premise storage, resulting in blended environments of physical, virtual, cloud, and other platforms, which justifies more sophisticated storage analytics. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Peter McCallum, Vice President of Datacenter Solutions at FalconStor, discussed using predictive analytics to mon...
"We are an all-flash array storage provider but our focus has been on VM-aware storage specifically for virtualized applications," stated Dhiraj Sehgal of Tintri in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Onalytica. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
All clouds are not equal. To succeed in a DevOps context, organizations should plan to develop/deploy apps across a choice of on-premise and public clouds simultaneously depending on the business needs. This is where the concept of the Lean Cloud comes in - resting on the idea that you often need to relocate your app modules over their life cycles for both innovation and operational efficiency in the cloud. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at19th Cloud Expo, Valentin (Val) Bercovici, CTO of Soli...
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IoT is going to be a huge industry with a lot of value for end users, for industries, for consumers, for manufacturers. How can we use cloud to effectively manage IoT applications," stated Ian Khan, Innovation & Marketing Manager at Solgeniakhela, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
Join Impiger for their featured webinar: ‘Cloud Computing: A Roadmap to Modern Software Delivery’ on November 10, 2016, at 12:00 pm CST. Very few companies have not experienced some impact to their IT delivery due to the evolution of cloud computing. This webinar is not about deciding whether you should entertain moving some or all of your IT to the cloud, but rather, a detailed look under the hood to help IT professionals understand how cloud adoption has evolved and what trends will impact th...