Pfizer’s Cloud Data Gambit

Pfizer needed to change the way it was managing petabytes of unstructured data to cut costs and reinvest in areas with patients at the center.

Key takeaways:

  • Pfizer is saving 75% on storage by using Komprise to analyze and continuously move cold data to Amazon S3 as it ages.
  • Storage managers and researchers both are finding additional benefits from this new analytics-based data management strategy, including zero user disruption and a foundation for data lakes.

If there’s one company that’s become a household name in the last 12 months, forget Netflix, Hulu and Instacart. Think Pfizer. To date, there have been more than 208 million doses delivered of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine in the United States– far bypassing the Moderna and J&J vaccines. The global pharmaceutical giant has been developing vaccines and therapies for decades, but 2020 most certainly threw down the gauntlet like no other initiative in the past. “It’s been a very challenging yet rewarding time to work here at Pfizer,” said Matt Braunstein, director of hosting data services, in a recent AWS webinar discussing Pfizer’s cloud data migration initiative using Komprise.

Extending data life cost-effectively in the cloud

Braunstein oversees storage, data protection and disaster recovery at Pfizer. He had been seeking a better way to manage the company’s 10PB of unstructured data: “We knew that 65% of our data hadn’t been accessed for at least two years from a predecessor program. With research and development for the Covid-19 vaccine, along with other vaccines, data growth has been exponential year-over-year.”

Pfizer has offices on 6 out of 7 continents, works with several of the leading storage vendors and has an installed base of many different generations of data management products. The company’s active acquisition strategy means that it is regularly acquiring additional data storage technologies, increasing overall complexity. Pfizer needs to keep historical data for future R&D: recall that SARS data was useful to researchers in 2020 when developing vaccines and treatments for Covid-19. Yet keeping petabytes of data on top-grade, on-premises storage isn’t a sound financial decision if the data is not accessed regularly.

Enter AWS S3.
Anthony Fiore, senior migration solutions expert for AWS, offered the following points during the webinar as to why enterprises are moving data to Amazon S3 object storage.

Security.
“This is job zero at Amazon, and we have lots of tools and services here to help protect data and maintain high availability,” Fiore says.

Pay as you go.
Whether it’s a terabyte or a petabyte, customers only pay for what they need.

Analytics and monetization.
AWS has built a foundation for data lakes and data analysis, through BI tools like Amazon QuickSight and new services designed for data-intensive verticals such as Amazon HealthLake.

How Komprise helped Pfizer create a cold data migration strategy on AWS

Braunstein chose Komprise to execute Pfizer’s cloud tiering plan: “What sets Komprise apart compared with other tools is the end-to-end process of analyzing and moving data. You can use Komprise to scan all your data, analyze costs and create business rules and then Komprise will act automatically against those rules.” Braunstein said it was also important that Komprise could transparently enable users to access cold data from the cloud without users knowing the difference.

Users can find files at the same location as they’ve been all along, as Komprise creates symbolic links and uses its patented Transparent Move Technology (TMT) to dynamically map cloud objects back as files without users or applications noticing any changes.

Using Komprise, Pfizer migrated 2PB of data to Amazon S3 in 2020, saving 75% on cold data storage.

Komprise migrates data automatically to Amazon S3 as it reaches 2 years in age, and Braunstein has heard more positive than negative feedback from Pfizer researchers. “Our R&D community is a heavy user of S3 and they definitely access the data there after it has been moved. It has been a surprise, but I’ve had people ask to move more of our data to the cloud.” Braunstein says he’d like to be more aggressive in moving data to cloud storage by potentially shortening the window for tiering cold data from 2 years to 1.5 or 1.75 years.

A new way to look at data management

Enterprise IT teams typically can’t see information about their data stored in one place, Fiore said. Detailed visibility, delivered by data management software like Komprise, is exciting to IT people: “We have customers with NAS shares which contain many silos of data in a single share and it’s hard to know how they can break it up by line of business or if they even care about this data. But once they see all the metadata, they get a better understanding of how everything works and then they can tag and search for it later.”

Pfizer’s vision for data management is to host data based on its analytical profile, rather than throwing high availability storage at it. This is a cultural shift, Braunstein says, since researchers often worry about losing their data or visibility into it. Yet Komprise’s analytics approach has proven that Pfizer’s cloud data management strategy is safe and transparent to users—and supports the company’s higher-level mission.

“We can now make razor sharp business decisions based on data so we can reinvest in areas that are more important to patients,” Braunstein says. “Our goal at Pfizer is to win the digital race in pharma and make breakthroughs that change people’s lives.”

The webinar is now available on-demand: Watch Now >

Read the Pfizer case study.

Read the eBook: 5 Ways to Use Analytics for Data Migrations.

Learn more about Komprise for Healthcare and Life Sciences, Komprise for AWS, and let us know if you’d like to schedule a custom demonstration to get started with Komprise Intelligent Data Management.

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