Amazon and Google are racing each other to get as many scientists as possible on board with their cloud computing offerings, an analysis has revealed.
Amazon and Google are both tapping in to a market that may be worth $1bn a year by 2018, as each company attracts high-profile genomics business.
Academic institutions and healthcare companies are picking sides between the respective cloud computing offerings - Google Genomics or Amazon Web Services - according to interviews with key industry figures.
The genomics business is gaining ground as personalised medicine emerges, which aims to base treatments on a patient’s DNA profile, the Reuters analysis has shown.
To make it possible, a vast quantity of data is needed to reveal how particular genetic profiles respond to different treatments.
The human genome is the full complement of DNA genetic material – a copy of which is found in nearly every cell of the body. Universities and drug manufacturers are now taking up projects to sequence the genomes of hundreds of thousands of people.
The appeal of Amazon and Google’s cloud computing often boils down to storage, as it is easier for clients to keep genomics data somewhere other than on their own computers, as well as much safer and at a controlled cost.
However, cloud companies are finding ways to go beyond storage to offer analytical functions that let scientists make sense of DNA data.
Microsoft and IBM are also after a slice of the cloud computing market.
Currently worth an estimated $100m-$300m globally, the cloud genomics market is expected to grow to $1bn by 2018, according to Daniel Ives, research analyst of investment bank FBR Capital.
By that time, the entire cloud market should have $50bn to $75bn in annual revenue, up from about $30bn now.
Both Amazon and Google are hosting well-known genomic datasets for free to attract future clients and although neither company discloses the amount of genomics data it holds, Amazon Web Services is believed to be bigger.
Data from the 1000 Genomes Project - an international public-private effort that identified genetic variations found in at least one per cent of humans - resides at both Amazon and Google “without charge,” said Kathy Cravedi of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), one of the project's sponsors.