In 2013, Novartis ran a project that involved virtually screening 10 million compounds against a common cancer target in less than a week. They calculated that it would take 50,000 cores and close to a $40 million investment if they wanted to run the experiment internally. Partnering with Cycle Computing and Amazon Web Services (AWS), Novartis built a platform leveraging Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS), and four Availability Zones. The project ran across 10,600 Spot Instances (approximately 87,000 compute cores) and allowed Novartis to conduct 39 years of computational chemistry in 9 hours for a cost of $4,232. Out of the 10 million compounds screened, three were successfully identified.
Pfizer, Inc. applies science and global resources to improve health and well-being at every stage of life. Pfizer’s high performance computing (HPC) software and systems for worldwide research and development (WRD) support large-scale data analysis, research projects, clinical analytics, and modeling. Pfizer’s HPC services are used across the spectrum of WRD efforts, from the deep biological understanding of disease, to the design of safe, efficacious therapeutic agents.
“The Amazon VPC was a unique option that offered an additional level of security and an ability to integrate with other aspects of our infrastructure,” says Dr. Michael Miller, Head of HPC for R&D atPfize. The primary cost savings has been in cost avoidance, “Pfizer did not ve to invest in additional hardware & software, which is only used during peak loads; that savings allowed for investments in other WRD activities.” For Pfizer, AWS is a fit-for-purpose solution. The Dr. Miller explains, “It is not a replacement for, but rather an addition to our capabilities for HPC WRD activities, providing a unique augmentation to our computing capabilities. Overall, “AWS enables Pfizer’s WRD to explore specific difficult or deep scientific questions in a timely, scalable manner and helps Pfizer make better decisions more quickly.”