Biotech Leader Gains a Sweet Competitive Advantage Through Storage Capacity and Performance: SESVanderHave

If you like sweet treats (and who doesn’t?), you’ve probably got sugar beets to thank, since they’re responsible for producing sucrose, or table sugar.

And those sugar beets are likely to have started from a seed developed by Belgian biotech leader SESVanderHave. With an R&D lab that tests more than one million new genotypes and grows more than 10,000 plants in its research plots each year, SESVanderHave is on the cutting edge of the sugar beet industry.

It also generates a lot of big data. Consider that a single bioinformatics project involving next-generation sequencing can generate nearly 150 terabytes of data over the life of the research.

SESVanderHave’s challenge was that its legacy block storage wasn’t designed for such big data. Yet researchers kept adding large DNA files until the storage capacity ran out and the file server crashed. This significantly slowed researchers’ ability to complete new projects that were critical to maintaining the company’s market leadership.

In response, SESVanderHave selected Dell EMC® Isilon® scale-out storage as the exclusive environment for its biotech researchers. The efficiencies that SESVanderHave has recognized with Isilon are significant:

  • With Isilon, SESVanderHave has reduced the time to analyze a 20 gigabyte DNA file from one and a half days to three to four hours;
  • Projects that could take more than a year now complete in less than three months.

As a result, SESVanderHave can deliver a broader range of customized seed varieties to meet specific market needs ranging from environmental conditions to production yields. Additionally, SESVanderHave gained storage capacity and performance to accelerate its genomic research projects and bring new sugar beet seed varieties to market faster. This translates into a powerful competitive advantage.

Kurt Bellen, SESVanderHave’s system team leader, says, “Our researchers can process more data, which allows our research department to stay ahead of the competition.”

Isilon enables researchers to run multiple analysis tools to complete entire projects more quickly. “Now, projects which contribute to producing disease-resistant plants can be completed in a few months compared to a year before.” said Bellen.

SESVanderHave’s IT organization has also benefited from Isilon by eliminating storage silos. Previously, scientists had to find space for their research results wherever they could because the company’s shared block storage wasn’t designed for big data. Now SESVanderHave has a single big data environment dedicated to biotech research.

Bellen concludes, “The amount of data our biotech researchers process now compared to before helps them come up with more solutions for increasing sugar yields and overcoming threats from diseases and insects that could limit sugar beet production. This will help us maintain our global leadership for years to come.”

Click here to read more about Dell EMC’s work with SESVanderHave in this customer profile.

About the Author: E. Sasha Paegle