The Next Big Thing: Genetics-as-a-Service?


There’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and even Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS). But if a new alliance between Google, Harvard, and the Board Institute of MIT works out, the next few years could see the rise of a whole new category: Genetics-as-a-Service. (Do we call it GaaS?)

As part of the alliance, Google will provide the cloud platform, and the Broad Institute the analytical tools. The first joint product is Broad Institute GATK on Google Cloud Platform, now in Alpha release; GATK, the Genome Analysis Toolkit, allows researchers to convert genomic data into actionable insights about genetic variants. By converting the Toolkit into a cloud service, researchers will be able to do their jobs without worrying about backend infrastructure.

“By making it easier for researchers to ask big questions and find answers amid complexity, we hope to unleash scientific creativity that could significantly improve our understanding of health and disease,” Google wrote in a statement. The groups reportedly have more projects in the pipeline. How long until researchers around the world can access genetic data with the same ease as their email or a cloud-computing instance?