Saving Scientific Data in the Cloud – Biggest Hurdles to Overcome
Before we enter the age of fully automated labs where all devices are connected and compatible, there are several hurdles to overcome. Switching to an Electronic Lab Notebook often opens up questions about saving data on the cloud. Labs have to address, discuss and make appropriate decisions about these important aspects:
1. Transition to Cloud
Cloud data storage brings many benefits such as remote accessibility, easier integration with other data systems, easier maintenance and updating as well as automated back-up. However, storing data in the cloud brings up many issues in terms of data security. There are different regulatory requirements for scientific data storage depending on your location and your line of work. Therefore, there are many cloud providers out there who offer different cloud storage options based on the regulatory requirements that the client needs to follow. In most cases it is enough to have the data simply stored in a cloud with encryption and private access. Luckily, this has already become the standard with basically any cloud provider.
As the security standards for the clouds are getting higher, in my opinion more and more scientists will decide to store their data on the cloud.
However, if your line of work involves patient data for example, you are obliged to store the data in a compliant manner, as defined by regulators, such as HIPAA. Some electronic lab notebook providers are already offering hosting on such validated systems that satisfy all regulatory needs. In short, the transition of science to the cloud is already happening. As the security standards for the clouds are getting higher and the actual location of the cloud servers is more transparent, in my opinion more and more scientists will decide to store their data on the cloud.
2. Data ownership
3. Data sharing
Once everyone starts to store data in the cloud, scientists will be able to exchange their data and results much more efficiently. This has the potential to drastically reduce the amount of experiments being performed as the data will be appropriately annotated while being generated. Of course not all data can be shared with everyone. Even if you are working in the same organization, you are usually not permitted to see the data of every project. Some data can only be shared with certain people working in a closed group. The scientist who is creating and uploading the content of an electronic lab notebook has to have absolute control who sees, edits or signs specific data at all times.