Are you trying to decide between an on-premises and cloud-based LIMS for your lab? It’s important to understand the benefits/differences between these options, but there’s a lot to consider. Although there is no one simple answer to this question, we wanted to make it easier for you to get the facts. In this comparison article, we’ll cover the pros and cons of both cloud-based LIMS and an on-prem platform to help you discern what would be better for your lab.
What is the purpose of a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS)?
As Ovation Co-Founder/CEO Barry Wark defines it, a LIMS
“supports the full cycle of lab functions to take a sample from order to diagnostic report to delivery of that report reimbursement and all of the operations that support that cycle within the lab, including operational intelligence and quality management.”
In other words, Ovation’s cloud-based LIMS will do the heavy lifting for you so you can focus more on outcomes and less on managing workflow tasks.
What is “The Cloud”?
The term “the cloud” can seem frightening, especially if you have been using your “tried-and-true” on-premises system in your lab for a long time. Let’s get into what it means to be “cloud-based”. When something is “cloud-based” it means that the software does not originate from a server in the same location as the end-user. In other words, the software is not installed “on-premises”. While using a cloud-based application the users are accessing that software via the internet. An example of cloud-based applications would be Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook.
Cloud-Based LIMS Benefits:
With the obvious benefits shown for cloud-based LIMS you may be surprised to learn that after all the costs are factored in, the cost of a cloud-based LIMS is normally less than an on-prem application. Most cloud-based LIMS have a monthly fee, and the rate of that fee changes only when your company grows or your needs change. Because of how quickly a cloud-based LIMS program is to set up, there are fewer maintenance expenses. When you make that leap over to the cloud you can cut out the bills your lab has had to power your servers and maintain their environment.
With a cloud-based LIMS, the headaches that come along with the IT overhead from on-prem applications are eliminated. Let a specialist team deal with the server hardware, operating systems upgrades, security headaches, and instead, you can just utilize them for the services they provide and let go of the other responsibilities weighing down on your lab. Because running a lab should be your main focus, not resolving IT issues.
Access Anytime, Anywhere:
With a Cloud-based LIMS, all you need is an internet connection, and because of that, you can utilize your systems anytime, anywhere in the world. This is perhaps the biggest benefit a cloud-based LIMS can offer you. Knowing that you can access your sample data without having to be physically on-site, or worse being on-site and having connectivity issues to your local server, takes a huge mental load off your shoulders. That feeling brings us to our next great benefit of cloud-based LIMS, which is reliability.
We all know how frustrating it can be when work needs to be done, and you’re denied access to the data you need because a system is down. A cloud-based LIMS removes that frustration because your vendor is managing your software, they handle the upgrades, data backups, and all of the redundancy to ensure you, the customer can always access your data.
We already talked about the elimination of your own on-prem IT overhead when you implement a cloud-based LIMS, which is an immense bonus. However, by implementing cloud-based LIMS you are also gaining the high level of security that comes with it. Since the cloud has strict encryptions and secure login information the data it stores becomes inherently safer than the server you are using in your on-prem application. If you are on the fence about “the cloud” just remember that not only is your money going further with cloud-based LIMS software, your personal/impersonal data will also be more secure. When it comes to protecting private lab information there is no better feeling than the security of Ovation’s cloud-based LIMS.
Our cloud-based LIMS adheres to HIPPA standards for information security. We regulate access through granular Roles & Permissions. We support electronic approval of reports and documents (21 CFR Part 11 guidelines, and we provide clear version control and user logging.
Eliminate Human Error:
We are all human, we all make mistakes, but in a laboratory, the last thing any of us want to do is make a mistake. Utilizing a LIMS can save your lab staff valuable time from the automated work a cloud-based LIMS does for you. As an all-encompassing application, the LIMS will track samples from receipt through storage and usage. These systems eliminate human error with their trail of data. As an example, think of the footprints you leave throughout the internet anytime you access a webpage, because of how the cloud works, infusing that approach with your LIMS gives you that same peace of mind knowing you will always be able to see where your data is, and what testing has been done. A cloud-based LIMS alone can combat the most detailed auditing through laboratory industry standards. Now you might be wondering, what
about the potential drawbacks?
Cloud-Based LIMS Cons:
Reliability and Connectivity:
As we stated in the cloud-based LIMS benefits, you need access to the internet and a web browser in order to utilize your software. Although this is a huge benefit across the board, some may view the need to have reliable internet access as a drawback. You will not be able to have productivity if you have no internet connection.
Although your upfront investment into a cloud-based LIMS is lower than the traditional on-premise software, there can be more costs in the long term depending on what provider you trust to partner with. Some cloud-based LIMS change their prices over time, or as your company changes and your needs change, so will the costs of your monthly fee. Depending on your maintenance expenses a cloud-based LIMS still has the potential to be cheaper for you compared to the on-prem. Every lab is different and unique in its business process. If you are a lab that has been investing a lot in hands-on IT support, you can benefit even more from a cloud-based LIMS application.
When you take on an on-prem application, you are purchasing your software, and servers outright, and you will be buying your user licenses once. This could result in a lower TCO (total cost of ownership) than a cloud-based LIMS.
For some laboratories, the internet is not something they chose to rely on. Maybe you are a lab that does not want an external force to dictate access to your software. With an on-prem service, the data is “in your hands” as the systems you utilize are on site. This also gives you control over how your lab sees fit to secure your data. If you have a large capable IT staff and the money to continue to fund that, this may be a positive for you having everything in-house.
Many believe that the costs of on-prem software will save you money upfront, but that is incorrect. An on-prem LIMS has many other costs that need to be factored in. If you have an on-prem application then your company alone has to purchase the servers, the software, and the IT staff to monitor and run your systems. Network IT overhead costs can be huge! There are many unpredictable costs that come with on-prem applications because the costs of services change over time. With a cloud-based LIMS, you are getting a set rate, which is a relief to many.
The upfront costs necessary to start an on-prem application are drastically larger than what a cloud-based application needs to be up and running. You have to think, the on-premises application is your lab buying the software, the server, the IT staff to run it, and more real estate to house the systems. On top of that, you have the maintenance costs, upgrades, regulations, and ensuring everything that you have just purchased is also compliant with state and federal regulations.
In a laboratory run by scientists, or researchers, you may not want the strain that comes along with your IT security. If you choose an on-prem application, then the security portion will fall on you. Making sure that your information is encrypted, systems are secure and up to date, and applications have been backed up will not only cost you money but will take away valuable time from you and your team. Utilizing a cloud-based LIMS makes it so you can focus on your job, and let the specialists handle your security.
Slower Implementation Process:
A cloud-based LIMS can be up and running within a matter of weeks depending on the needs of your lab, and the company you chose to partner with. However, if you chose to establish your lab with an on-prem application, now you also have the burden of software installations for every employee and then the server/software maintenance to be up and running. You know the frustration when you are waiting for something to download and install? Now we multiply that wait by every employee you have to ensure they all have proper access to the software. Then when that software crashes, every person utilizing those systems is now locked out of essential data needed to get their jobs done. Again, taking away that valuable time from you and your team.
Final Thoughts to Consider
Getting away from an on-premise application and moving on to a cloud-based LIMS allows your lab to get back to the core of your work. You will no longer have the burden of wasting time and energy updating software and maintaining servers. Your money will no longer be wasted on inefficient costs, and you will gain your time back, which is invaluable.
Although we cannot speak for other cloud LIMS, utilizing Ovation’s cloud-based LIMS will go above those standards with our approach which “at its heart, means using technology to match researchers with the right data, from the right lab, in ways that are up to five times faster than traditional methods.”
While the final decision rests with you and what you believe is best for your lab, if you decide to jump into the cloud, we hope you will trust Ovation to be your cloud-LIMS provider and partner. Reach out to us today to see how we can make your lab work tasks lighter.