Supply Chain Council of European Union |
Supply Chain Risk

Storage For Fast Genomics And Risk Analysis

I had an opportunity to talk with Daniel Nowak, Director of Infrastructure from Invitae, a customer of flash memory storage company, VAST Data. I also talked with Bindiya Vikal of Resilinc about their supply chain risk analysis service, which Western Digital began to use after the 2011 Thailand floods.

 Invitae is a 10 year old genetic analysis company.  Invitae has a goal of providing genetic health care to everyone and driving down costs to reach more people and provide cancer diagnose and help with treatment plans.  With such testing, the speed of analysis is critical, since they are dealing with life and death solutions.  They have moved from partial genetic analysis to more full-genome mapping as the costs of genomic mapping has declined.

The sample sets are about 10GB per patient for the partial genetic analysis to 100-250GB per patient for a whole genome.  Using modern sequencers and using AI genome mapping is a lot faster than it used to be.  Genetics are playing a lot bigger role in healthcare decisions.  Although the company started with cancer they now also do IVF and COVID mutation analysis.

Invitae moved to using VAST to speed up their workflows (see image of VAST Data storage enclosure below).  They use GPUs plus VAST for their analysis.  They moved to using VAST about a year ago.  Daniel told me that using VAST storage they got a 6X improvement in access to data and a 30X IOPS performance improvement.   The image below is of a VAST storage enclosure.

As a consequence of this improved performance from their prior storage products they write directly to VAST rather than storing data locally.  Current test runs took 24 hours to run, but with VAST and GPUs they can do these runs in 15 minutes.  Faster access to data makes a difference in medical genetic analysis.  The company is also starting to use VAST in non-critical workloads in their office and says that they are standardizing on VAST for all their workloads.

I also had an opportunity to talk with Bindiya Vikal of Resilinc.  Resilinc’s SCRM monitoring and analysis service helps its customers with risk management.  Western Digital began working with Resilinc after their experience with the 2011 Thailand floods, which closed down many hard disk drive operations and impacted the HDD supply chain for many months.  HDDs use sub-components made in many different places and when the flood hit they had little visibility to where their suppliers operated (particularly in Thailand).  

With the merger with HGST in 2012, WD had even less visibility on where all sub-components were sourced.  Getting this information, and then working with Resilinc, allowed understanding potential risk factor earlier.  Resilinc says that they tie a list of source locations and mapping with public news sources using AI to identify possible supply chain risks.

In addition to natural disasters, the Resilinc service can provide information on events such as factory fires (they said that there are about 150-350 factor fires annualy in the semiconductor and high tech industries).   They can also alert customers about cyber attacks and regulatory changes that could create potential legal risks for companies.  Resilinc said that itt picked up the original alert on the emerging COVID pandemic from Wuhan China on December 28, 2019 and sent its first alert to its customers on January 4 after Wuhan China was locked down on January 2.  The company released a pandemic assessment on January 24, 2020.

In the case of identification of an event that could impact businesses in a geographic region, Resilinc draws a circular area on a map where manufacturers may be impacted.  They then automatically contact the supplier to get their current status.  If the supplier doesn’t confirm the impact of the event, Resilinc does a personal outreach for confirmation of the impact of the event.  This data is then supplied to their customers for their supply chain planning.  The figure below shows an example of Resilinc’s network visualizations to spot sub-tier failure points.

Resilinc says that, “Driven by Artificial Intelligence, natural language processing, and machine learning, these solutions enable better visibility into the structure of the supply chain – down to the second and third tier supplier level. Instead of scrambling, our customers have a lot of information at their fingertips within minutes of a potential disruption. They know exactly which suppliers, sites, parts, and products are at risk. So, when disruption strikes or is on the horizon, they are the first to know and react.”

Faster solid-state storage from VAST helps Invitae with their genetic analysis workflows.  Resilinc helps companies like Western Digital anticipate identify potential supply chain risks.

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