Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, along with its research partner Oxford University, has been at the forefront of the global effort to research, develop and rapidly deploy a vaccine that could aid in curbing the spread of the novel Covid-19 coronavirus across the world.
The first of the 100 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine the UK government has acquired was administered at the start of January 2021, and – at the time of writing – GP surgeries across the country are starting to take delivery of their stocks.
While a lot of the media attention the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has attracted to date has focused on the rapid pace of its development, a lot of the behind-the-scenes work that has made it possible to confer widescale protection against Covid-19 within the UK population has relied on cloud computing.
AstraZeneca’s global infrastructure services director, Scott Hunter, is responsible for the pharmaceutical company’s cloud platforms and innovation solutions for the cyber security and infrastructure part of its business.
The company relies on four of the major public cloud providers’ platforms to carry out its work, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Alibaba.
It also draws on the interconnection capabilities of colocation giant Equinix to make all four of these firms’ respective cloud technologies available via AstraZeneca’s own datacentres.
“We’ve strapped our own methods of operations on top of that, but at the same time we take advantage of some of the niche capabilities like natural language processing (NLP) with search on Azure, and we use a lot of infrastructure as a service [IaaS] on AWS for research and development,” says Hunter.
Hunter’s 112-person team has responsibility for architecture, design and governance, and controls what the company does with its hybrid multicloud environment, known as the AZ Cloud.
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