WEST LAFAYETTE — Purdue University is at the forefront of Indiana’s fight against the spread of COVID-19 variants, and is ready to assist should the pandemic change courses or surge again.

At the start of the pandemic, Purdue’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL) expanded from focusing solely on veterinary issues to include human COVID samples. It has performed 180,000 tests in that time, while the on-campus Carpi Lab switched from sequencing malaria to COVID. They remain among the only labs in Indiana actively seeking, detecting and sequencing variants, including B.1.1.7., according to a news release from Purdue.

“The combination of scientific and engineering excellence makes us stand out from the crowd,” said Willie Reed, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and head of the vaccine task force, in a statement. “We have STEM expertise, including a world-class veterinary medical school, biomedical researchers and more. People from all areas of the university have stepped up as we knew they would, using their expertise and willingness to immediately apply their knowledge to this worldwide challenge.”

Tracking the genetics of a virus or any disease gives scientists insights into how it is moving through a community and allows them to take steps to slow the spread, according to the news release. Comparing genomics also can help scientists understand how the variant is responding to vaccinations, as well as other anti-infectious measures including masks, quarantines, social distancing, intensive cleaning and other procedures.

Since January, Dr. Giovanna Carpi’s lab has sequenced and studied about 200 complete viral genomes, including variants that can be screened by testing, according to the news release. Carpi, an assistant professor of biological sciences who focuses primarily on malaria, is now working with the ADDL and Protect Purdue Health Center to track the novel coronavirus in the Purdue community and throughout Indiana. The information she gathers helps inform policymakers, ensuring that city, state and university leaders have the best and most accurate, up-to-date information possible.

“When you see the CDC variant data, all of it comes out of Tippecanoe County,” said Dr. Scott Stienecker in the news release. Stienecker is an infectious disease expert and epidemiologist and member of the medical advisory team. “That’s because Purdue is the only place doing this type of testing and sequencing.”

Stienecker is the medical director of Epidemiology and Infection Prevention for Parkview Health.

Things to consider before moving to the cloud

The following information comes from Bryan Mullins, network engineer – DWD Technology Group:

While cloud technology didn’t take the world by storm as many predicted years ago, it has seen consistent growth over time. The pandemic ignited the need for flexible, on-demand solutions starting many businesses down the path of researching a move to the cloud.

Making an investment to move your business fully or partially to the cloud should be a decision based on the unique needs of your business.

Here are 10 things you should consider if you are thinking about making a move to the cloud.

1. What are your business objectives for migrating to the cloud?

There are many reasons businesses move to the cloud from cost savings and reduced risk of data loss to increased employee collaboration and anytime, anywhere access. Are you looking to move the management of your IT infrastructure outside your business to reduce your internal IT responsibilities? Do you want to expand your remote working technologies?

2. What applications can be moved to the cloud?

Begin by taking an inventory of the number of applications run by your business. You’ll find that a number can quickly be migrated to the cloud, such as email and file sharing. Likely, your employees are already using some cloud applications, sanctioned or unsanctioned, so how do you plan to manage these applications?

3. How old are your hardware and on-premises applications?

If you’ve recently invested in new hardware or applications running internally, it may not be the best time to move your IT infrastructure to the cloud. The best time to consider a move is when your hardware is more than three years old.

4. How much are you currently spending to keep your on-premises systems running?

Organizations calculate spending, investing, and costs of migrating to the cloud in very different ways. Some look deep into energy consumption and cost per square foot of their storage room, while others look more generally at monthly costs for services.

5. Where are your employees working from, and do they need new or improved collaboration tools?

If you still have employees working remotely, you need to decide if you will allow your employees to work remotely long term. Employers who allow remote work see 25% lower employee turnover. However, beyond remote employees, other considerations need to be made. Are you simply in one office, or do you have multiple offices? With those offices, are you reliant on a VPN or a way to keep all the data flowing between multiple locations? These are things that would be easier with a move to the cloud.

A big advantage of moving to the cloud is the ability to collaborate seamlessly. Your team should be able to access documents anytime and anywhere. While Microsoft Teams leads the all-in-one solution pack, tools like Slack and Zoom allow you to try them out with no upfront costs.

6. Where will files be stored?

File storage is one of the biggest factors that cause people to consider moving to the cloud. Dropbox may be the name that everyone came to learn when cloud file storage hit the mainstream, but several other file storage solutions exist for those moving to the cloud. Although Box offers similar files-only capabilities, Google and Microsoft both offer all-in-one solutions. While Google Workspace offers Docs, Sheets, Slides, Hangouts, and Gmail, Microsoft provides online and local versions of more familiar apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams and Outlook.

7. How will data security change, and do we have compliance requirements?

Cloud computing presents many unique security issues and challenges. In the cloud, data is stored with a third–party provider and accessed over the Internet. This means visibility and control over that data is limited. Oftentimes, data security and risks are a shared responsibility between the vendor and the customer. You must understand what role you’re taking on. If your industry requires special regulations such as HIPAA or PCI compliance, you’ll need to make sure the cloud platform provider has that specific certification.

8. How will moving to the cloud change our Disaster Recovery Plan?

If your cloud computing system experiences downtime or is faced with a disaster, what is your backup strategy and how is your cloud service provider going to get you out of the crisis? To ensure business continuity, it is vital for employees and clients to still have the ability to access company data.

9. Will the cloud be able to grow with our company?

When you need to increase server capacity, add users or manage an increase in demand, you should be able to instantly add more capacity in the cloud. If those requirements change, you can flex up or down. With the cloud, you should not have a long-term commitment to infrastructure costs.

10. How reliable are cloud solutions? Should I expect much downtime?

It is important to determine a cloud vendor’s margin of error, frequency of power outages, and security issues. To combat downtime, it’s important to have applications with offline syncing. This means if you suffer downtime your employees can keep working, knowing that the updated files will sync to the cloud automatically once the issue is resolved.

For more information, contact DWD Technology group at www.dwdtechgroup.com.

Cindy Larson is a longtime Fort Wayne journalist and is a Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly reporter. To submit items, send email to clarson@kpcmedia.com or call 260-426-2640, ext. 3369.

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