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data integration


viable alternative, as moving huge data sets from one system to another is no longer viable or desirable,’ said Williams. ‘Tis in turn leads to transferring metadata as opposed to the whole data set, so that the systems or instruments can be searched from a different application as the data required transferred on an as needed basis.’ IDBS’ E-WorkBook regularly captures


data from other systems or instruments (registration systems, SDMS, CDS, HPLC, etc.) but also pushes to systems such as warehouses or ERP. Williams explained that, in many cases, the ELN is the application that many scientists spend the majority of their time using, and so it becomes the main interface to other systems and makes integration a key factor in simplifying the user experience. ‘When systems are used by many users (oſten thousands) with many integrations, there are always challenges. Tese can vary from integrating with old instruments or systems that have limited integration points, to


IN MANY CASES, THE ELN IS THE APPLICATION THAT MANY SCIENTISTS SPEND THE MAJORITY OF THEIR TIME USING, SO IT BECOMES THE MAIN INTERFACE


leading-edge systems that have many possible integration points and rich data. Tese challenges are not insurmountable, but require thought and planning.’ Another company aiming to meet


quality assurance will see up-to-the-minute quality information and shipment release information within the corporate enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Glyn Williams, VP of product delivery


at IDBS, added that in the past simple file transfer has sufficed – but, with the increased complexity and functionality of instruments and systems, a deeper bi-directional interface is now required. Tis has led to the development of richer application programming interfaces (APIs) for soſtware and hardware to allow the levels of integration required. ‘Te volumes and richness of data that instruments now produce makes linking to systems the only


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these challenges is PerkinElmer, whose e-notebook provides extensive tools to capture data from a wide range of sources and preserve them in electronic form. In addition, it offers search and retrieval, protected long-term storage, as well as the possibility to deploy in validated environments. Preserving the data is, of course, just one part of the process, as Rudy Potenzone, VP of product strategy for informatics at PerkinElmer, explained: ‘Formats, whether based on standards, proprietary vendor formats or ad hoc user creation, need to be fully defined and understood. ‘Moving data requires a complete


knowledge of the form, of the date, its units and oſten, the description of its history (conditions, source, treatment, etc.). In order to assure the quality exchange, the


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The ACD/Spectrus platform serves to eliminate the one-and-done chemical data life cycle by capturing ‘live’ analytical data content with chemical context


appropriate context must be included.’ When sharing data with external


collaborators, such as contract research organisations, context is critical. Dotmatics CEO Steve Gallagher believes that a common language between partners is essential to guarantee the success of such ventures. ‘Tis paradigm shiſt requires soſtware that will enable the safe and secure communication between partners, independently of where the data is stored or how it is formatted. In addition, geographical constraints mean that cloud solutions have become key, and web-clients are a must.’ Te Dotmatics web-based platform can


query, analyse and report on multiple data sources at once, then share these findings in a simple and secure way. It is a secure enterprise platform, with sophisticated yet easy-to-tune business rules, that provides an uncluttered view of all data, independently of format, data source or location. Dotmatics is designed not only to share data but to stimulate collaboration across project teams, resulting in improved quality, creativity, and productivity.


A matter of standards? Te difficulty that arises when integrating data from multiple systems is a lack of consistency – both in terms of metadata and document formats. In simple terms, people can oſten describe the same data in different ways, and with organisations that contain a range of scientific disciplines, this can be exacerbated. Te consequence of this is that people can resort to transcribing data manually as definitions can also vary between systems – a laborious process that invites errors to creep in. One possible solution is the introduction


of data integration standards – a goal that bodies such as Allotrope Foundation are working towards. Gerhard Noelken sits on the board of directors and the


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