On-Premises Versus Cloud-Based Lab Management Software


The life sciences are astonishingly data-intensive today, and in many cases, big projects require collaboration between departments or institutions. Even without collaboration, powerful IT infrastructure is necessary to run the software tools that help researchers understand their data.

Powerful, secure software is essential to life sciences research
Not only are generous storage and bandwidth essential, but security in lab sample management is more critical than ever. While some research organizations have turned to the cloud for this, others prefer the heightened security of a local host, so that only internal networks are required for data and biological specimen inventory management. No one disputes the power of the cloud for business applications, but permanent ownership of a software license, plus a local host for data, offer clear advantages for sample tracking, biorepository management, and freezer inventory.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cloud Software

The great thing about cloud software for business applications like spreadsheets, phone systems, and the like is that smaller organizations don’t have to sink a lot of money into IT hardware and its maintenance and upkeep. It allows smaller businesses to compete on a more even playing field than was possible in the pre-cloud era. Plus, cloud subscriptions can be scaled up or down easily, and in many cases operate on a month-to-month basis. Cloud security has improved significantly since the early days of cloud applications, but to some businesses and organizations, the physical and network security of an on-site, local host make it a better choice than the cloud.

Cloud Security Threats

Over the past few years you have undoubtedly read about cloud security breaches involving things like credit card records and customer account data. Data breaches are the number one security threat in the cloud, and research organizations working with sensitive or personally identifiable patient health information are understandably wary of data breaches. Another threat is hacking due to lax authentication and inadequate key or certificate management. System vulnerabilities are constantly being identified and taken advantage of by those with bad intent, and social engineering attacks (like phishing) are also important cloud security threats.

Security Advantages of a Local Host

This is not to say that software-as-a-service, or SaaS, for labs is never a consideration. There are applications where SaaS for labs is perfectly acceptable. However, secure tracking of sample and aliquot lineage for tasks like tracing cell lines is something many facilities do not want to trust to cloud applications. Instead, they choose a local host setup where the hardware is on-site and can be physically monitored as well as subject to internal network security practices. The challenge is finding a system that is powerful enough, flexible enough, and that maximizes lab sample management security.

For some facilities, cloud security is not stringent enough
How Freezerworks Maximizes Both Flexibility and Security

Freezerworks is a leader in lab sample management security, providing a flexible working environment for either a freezer-centric or a sample-centric approach to this critical task. Furthermore, Freezerworks offers the most complete audit trail available, so you can efficiently track:

  • What data was altered
  • Usernames of those who changed data
  • Date and time stamps of data changes
  • Process used to change data
  • Previous incarnations of data
  • Why data was changed
For facilities that must adhere to HIPAA and other regulations concerning sensitive patient information, Freezerworks allows users to mark appropriate fields as “PHI” so data is masked when users scroll through records, thus protecting it from the casual viewer. And when data is unmasked, Freezerworks tracks the user who viewed it, as well as when the data was viewed. Freezerworks audit trails are un-editable, searchable, and automated.

CAP Accreditation and What It Means to Your Facility

In 2012, the College of American Pathologists (CAP) accreditation for biorepositories was initiated. This stringent accreditation for assurance that high-quality policies and procedures are in place gives lab sample management specialists peace of mind. Freezerworks has proven itself to be a valuable partner for labs seeking CAP accreditation due to its extensive checklists incorporated right into the software. And Freezerworks’ expertise in ensuring secure lab sample management along with ease of finding samples improves efficiency at the same time.

SaaS for labs has its place, but for institutions and processes that require strong adherence to security rules, using a local host for lab sample management is preferable due to the greater control that comes from on-site hardware. We hope you will contact us at any time with your questions, or to discuss your lab sample management needs. Freezerworks is thoroughly committed to providing high quality, configurable, and secure solutions to the scientific community.