PMACS offers a number of options to facilitate the unique needs of researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine:
- Cloud Infrastructure via Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- High Performance Computing (PennHPC)
- Archive Storage
- Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap)
- Laboratory Information Management System/LIMS
Amazon Web Services (AWS) are a collection of infrastructure services that are available for fee-for-use purchase from Amazon. Capabilities include both block and file storage options, virtual servers, security, and reporting. Many cloud-based services use AWS as their infrastructure foundation, including Netflix and Dropbox. Researchers at Penn utilize AWS for large-scale computational needs; the fee-for-use model allows researchers to "spin-up" tens, hundreds, or thousands of virtual processing cores, process their data, and then delete the virtual cores. This model allows researchers to buy and use only what they need. This capability can be used as an "overflow" when on-premise centralized High-Performance Computing resources are utilized at capacity.
High-Performance Computing describes the high-speed, parallel processing of research data. The PennHPC system provides both high-speed storage and computational capabilities for the research community. Priced as a fee-for-use service, researchers buy only what they need without the requirement of purchasing large-scale equipment up-front. The HPC system is maintained centrally, by the PMACS department.
Long-term archive storage that can span thousands of terabytes is now available. This storage is a tape-based system that provides data mirroring for fault tolerance, and access via a simple Mac, Windows, or Linux drive mapping. This long-term storage is priced as a fee-for-use model, and clients have the ability to purchase only the storage they need, for as long as they need it. While slower than disk-based storage, this tape archive has expansion capabilities into the thousands of terabytes. This system allows clients to store data in a cost-effective manner, and have that data easily accessible days, months, or years in the future.
Research Electronic Data Capture (REDcap) is a web-browser based electronic data capture system developed by Vanderbilt University, and provided to Vanderbilt's academic partners free of charge. The system provides a platform by which researchers can design research databases, and provides capabilities such as electronic forms and automated workflow enabling study design and data collection.
SharePoint is a web-based Microsoft product that helps clients collaborate, manage documents, create electronic forms, and manage lists of items in a format similar to the MS-Excel. SharePoint allows clients to easily manager websites for their departments, centers, studies, and similar purposes. The ability to assign customizable metadata (descriptive data about a document or list item) provides clients a high degree of customization for a wide array of needs, and SharePoint's ease-of-use provides a web environment that can be managed by those not familiar with traditional website management.
LIMS software (LabVantage LIMS) provides a system that helps track biosamples and biosample data through their full lifecycle, including sample collection, aliquot creation, derivative creation, sample movement, sample analysis, sample depletion, etc. The LIMS allows a centrally managed system to serve diverse research needs, and ensures research data is kept secure both internal and external to Penn.