May. 9, 2017
This “new normal” is also true for the seed industry, with more and more plant breeding data now being stored and processed on the Cloud. The many advantages for Cloud-based computing also apply to plant breeders and their plant breeding programs. With more data and typically more locations involved in breeding programs, the following advantages of SaaS appeal to plant breeders: immediate and fast access over the internet globally; advanced security against hackers and data loss; faster data processing on optimized virtual servers; backup and disaster recovery 24/7; no worries about operating system upgrades and related IT issues. Plant breeders are incredibly busy, and sometimes year-round with three seasons for a crop in India, for example. Time is precious, therefore less time spent on data management, access and related IT issues means more time spent on developing hybrids and varieties, which in itself presents real value.
Some plant breeders still manage their data in spreadsheets, which makes their data even more vulnerable. An organization’s “crown jewels” can be compromised or stolen by staff with simply a USB stick, as has happened to a number of seed companies. Just unauthorized access to spreadsheets, not to mention hackers, greatly increase the vulnerability of valuable data. As an integrated relational database, AGROBASE has two layers of security controls, even specifying access privileges and what experiments or nurseries can be accessed or viewed. By moving data to the Cloud, there are additional inherent security levels that will further protect an organization’s data.
In recent years, AGROBASE Generation II users worldwide have increasingly expressed interest in using this Software as a Service on the Cloud. In the last year, several users have experienced quite unexpected hard disk or server crashes with disruption in their work. Not all client had a comprehensive data backup policy and subsequently suffered the loss of precious data and time. One seed company experienced a sudden attack from hackers in an Asian country – they were astonished that it came just hours after an IT change in their network. Others have been frustrated by slow or less than professional response from their designated IT support.
Accordingly, Agronomix Software, Inc., who develop and support AGROBASE Generation II, launched AGROBASE Cloud® in May 2016, and is pleased with the growing acceptance worldwide. Now users of the AGROBASE Generation II® Plant Breeding Software can access and process their data on the Cloud. As a member of the Microsoft Partner Network®, Agronomix Software utilizes the industry-standard Microsoft Azure® datacentres worldwide. Microsoft Azure Datacentres were chosen for their worldwide reach, industry standard security with many built-in security, monitoring, reporting and performance tools, as well as legal compliance. In May 2018, for example, the European Union will start enforcing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and Microsoft Azure users will benefit from the guidance and compliance tools available. This is an added and important benefit when considering which datacentres to use. For AGROBASE Cloud, which is the datacentre hosting environment for AGROBASE Generation II, Agronomix Software IT staff handle the virtual server and computing resource requirements, software installation, updates, maintenance, security, backups, performance monitoring and more.
AGROBASE Cloud is now used in Australia, the US, Canada, Europe and Asia, with interest growing steadily. Dr Mulitze, CEO of Agronomix Software, expected that only the small and medium size seed companies would be interested in AGROBASE Cloud, but even some of the larger seed companies are interested or are now using AGROBASE Cloud. For more advanced disaster recovery, some companies require Geo-Redundant Storage (GRS) as an offsite backup where all the data is replicated daily to another datacentre hundreds of miles away. Clients with AGROBASE Cloud notice increased performance of the software application due to the efficiency of a remote desktop connection and optimal configuration with load balancing as needed for the virtual server or servers involved. The small seed companies, some even without a server, were quite pleased at not having to research the specifications and buy a server, do the software installation, and contract out the IT support and maintenance. Agronomix Software was able to do all of this for the clients, as well as scale up the servers as the processing requirements increased over time. In fact, virtual servers can be scaled up for larger capacity in a matter of hours for a client.
Software upgrades and fixes become more convenient for clients in the Cloud context. When AGROBASE Cloud users in Australia, Asia, and Europe, for example, use AGROBASE the next working day, they will notice that their version was upgraded overnight with no disruption in their work. No worries about whether the update was done correctly, or whether a virus was introduced, or if there is an issue with the operating system or the exact version of Microsoft SQL®. All those concerns are addressed and tested in the upgrade or update for each client’s virtual server. Here the time zone differences offer an advantage for client service.
Clients with AGROBASE Tablet®, wherein data from the field or lab can be entered onto a Windows® tablet, also see more flexibility and speed in the connection. Users can score data on a Windows tablet for an entire field, across experiments and nurseries and in almost any walking order, for many thousands of observations daily. Then at the end of the day, with a few clicks when in Wi-Fi range, all the data is almost instantly uploaded to the central AGROBASE SQL® Database on the virtual server in the remote datacentre.
AGROBASE Generation II®, developed over 26 years with interaction from plant breeders around the world, is used in over 40 countries worldwide.
Please download AgroPages' latest magazine - 2017 Seed Special to see more.
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