Thanks to AWS, we can further accelerate our research on genome sequencing. Before, it would take us 12 hours to test 4 samples of 600 genes. Now, we can test 24 samples of 600 genes in the same time. As a result, we’ve seen a 600% increase in the number of samples we can analyze.
Daniel Seguí Real IT Manager, Igenomix
  • About Igenomix

    Igenomix provides genetics testing services and solutions to fertility organizations and individuals. It has clinics around the world, with its main testing facility located in Valencia, Spain.

  • Services Used

    • Delivers robust, reliable platform for genetics research
    • Increases number of samples analyzed by 600%
    • Avoids significant outlay on hardware
    • Supports company’s global growth
    • Accelerates understanding of genetics
  • Services Used

Igenomix is one of the world’s leading providers of solutions for fertility problems. The company works with both fertility clinics and individuals, delivering testing services that help increase the chances of becoming pregnant and having healthy babies. The testing process involves analyzing genomes—made up of DNA—to detect mutations. All testing is done through next-generation sequencing (NGS), an advanced method of analyzing DNA that delivers more in-depth results compared to traditional sequencing technologies. Igenomix runs eight specialist laboratories worldwide. Its main testing facility is in Valencia, Spain, where it employs more than 130 people.

It’s no surprise that next-generation sequencing—also called high-throughput sequencing—is a compute-intensive activity. “We generate an enormous amount of data,” says Jorge Jiménez Almazán, bioinformatics director at Igenomix. “We conduct six sequencing runs a week for just one product. Each run generates 100 gigabytes of data.” But that’s just the start. Further processing, primarily for quality control purposes, means the company ends up with five times that amount of data for each sequence. “NGS represents a huge change in our industry,” says Jiménez Almazán. “Its potential is very exciting, but the cost of running this technology on physical servers is astronomical. Processing terabytes of data a week in this way isn’t possible without a ton of money.”

Igenomix wanted to be at the cutting edge of research without significant investment in infrastructure. “Our challenge is staying one step ahead of other players in our sector, so we needed to find a way to make NGS technology work,” says Daniel Seguí Real, IT manager, Igenomix. “This meant finding a robust but adaptable solution that could grow with our requirements. Moving to the cloud was the obvious route.”

“We looked for the cloud provider with the most mature portfolio and best support for open-source software,” says Seguí Real of why Igenomix chose Amazon Web Services (AWS). Reliability was also high on the IT manager’s agenda. “If you’re not in the research sector, 100 percent reliability might not be quite so critical, but for us it was imperative to know the tools we were going to use were tried and tested. On all our criteria, AWS beat the competition by quite a margin.”

Igenomix runs its NGS workloads using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) in the EU (Ireland) region, with Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) providing backup. Jimenez Almazán says, “We have about 7 terabytes of data in Amazon EC2 and almost 60 terabytes residing in Amazon S3, where it has to be kept for at least two years, as required by law in Spain.”

The organization found that getting started on AWS was a fast process. “We worked with a partner to set up our infrastructure,” says Seguí Real. “It took us just two weeks from establishing our requirements to running our first NGS workloads. Our partner continues to provide us with ongoing support to evolve our platform on AWS.” Soon, Igenomix will be moving to Amazon Elastic File System (Amazon EFS) for increased storage flexibility.

Igenomix is benefiting from faster analysis. “Thanks to AWS, we can further accelerate our research on genome sequencing,” says Seguí Real. “Before, it would take us 12 hours to test 4 samples of 600 genes. Now, we can test 24 samples of 600 genes in the same time. As a result, we’ve seen a 600 percent increase in the number of samples we can analyze. This means we can better serve our customers and increase our revenue because we can process more samples. Even more importantly, it means we can gather more information about genes in a shorter space of time and therefore accelerate our understanding of genetics.”

Using the AWS Cloud is helping Igenomix focus on furthering research rather than running its IT infrastructure. By avoiding significant investment in supporting its NGS workloads onsite, Igenomix can direct more of its budget to research and subsequently help more people around the world have healthy children. Seguí Real says, “We haven’t had to make an investment in a data center, which could have cost hundreds of thousands of euros. Nor do we have the ongoing maintenance costs of running our high-performance workloads in-house—or the associated risk. It’s a double win for us. We have more money for research, plus we’re never going to have a capacity issue that can’t be solved almost instantly.”

In addition to its lab in Spain, Igenomix currently has three centers in the United States, as well as others in Brazil, Canada, India, Japan, Mexico, the Middle East, and the United Kingdom. Seguí Real says, “All areas of the company are growing, and by using AWS we have the space to grow.” Although the company’s main analysis facility is in Spain, Seguí Real points out that it would be simple to transfer analysis to anywhere in the world. “That’s the great thing about AWS,” he says. “Its global reach means we can create analysis centers wherever we need them. This gives us great flexibility and enables us to be responsive to business needs.”