Avaki's grid transforms data for collaboration

FRAMINGHAM (09/24/2003) - Avaki Corp.'s new Data Grid 4.0 software takes distributed data access to a new level by supporting virtually any type of data and including the capability to provision data for use in other applications. The result: Life science companies can use Data Grid 4.0 to set up complex data workflows where data generated by one application or group can automatically be transformed for use by other applications or groups.

Previous versions of Avaki's Data Grid software supported access to flat file data. "In discovery work, life science companies are dealing with flat file data and distributed teams," says Tim Yeaton, Avaki's president. Data Grid 3.0 permits geographically dispersed researchers secure access to repositories of curated genomic data and lab experiment results.

When collaboration extends beyond discovery and "into development and clinical trials, you add relational data to the mix," Yeaton says. "You (still) want a single view of all the data, including the discovery flat files and the clinical trial relational data."

There are several ways to deliver this single view of all data. Traditional data management solutions such as warehousing, enterprise application integration (EAI), or enterprise information integration (EII) can provide single-point access. But these approaches typically require costly re-engineering of existing IT infrastructure. At a minimum, EII and EAI require writing lots of database wrappers to make raw data accessible and usable by other applications.

"A grid approach where the solution quickly plugs into an existing infrastructure without requiring (extensive) reconfiguring would be highly desirable," says Amith Viswanathan, industry manager for Frost & Sullivan's life sciences information technologies group.

The desire to drive enterprisewide collaboration is the motivator to provide a single view of data generated throughout an organization. "Tools that provide a federated model of data access are key" to facilitating needed interdisciplinary cooperation, Viswanathan says.

Data Grid 4.0 supports access to flat file, XML, and relational data. It also can access application data by using servlets, little Java programs designed to execute on a server. The software can transform data into formats required for use in another application. Information residing in a relational database could be extracted, reformatted as XML, and transformed using Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (XSLT) into a format to be viewed as an HTML page or used in another application.

Companies could thus provide data in the formats required by specific groups, such as a comma-delimited file for use with a spreadsheet. Researchers could also set up automatic data flows and event-triggered data management so that every time an experiment is run, the output from the lab equipment is automatically transformed into XML and inserted into a new database.

The upshot: Data in different formats and from multiple sources can be accessed, transformed, and aggregated or pipelined to other experiments as needed. It's also possible to make data available through portals or dashboards. Pfizer is an early adopter of Data Grid 4.0 but hasn't yet commented on the product's effectiveness.

Vendor: Avaki Corp.

Product Name: Data Grid 4.0

Availability: Now/Price runs US$35,000 to $50,000

For more information: +1-(781) 272-3331, ext. 2200; or www.avaki.com

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