Platform Solutions


The Platform Solutions unit supports the range of Wellcome Genome Campus users with IT infrastructure and platforms. The goal is to provide cost-effective and performant IT infrastructure, though supporting the whole Campus community rather than just Genome Research Limited.

The Platform Solutions unit is led by Nathan Cunningham. We oversee the Campus data centre, networks, WiFi, telephony, and research infrastructure. With the Chief Information Officer (CIO), the Genome Research Limited (GRL) Operations board oversees the priorities and performance of this unit, with the Strategic Informatics Committee (SICom) also having oversight of aspects that are relevant to our science and informatics.

The key functions that the Platform Solutions unit performs include:

  • Data centre services. Ensuring the data centre strategy is fit for purpose to support the mission of the Sanger Institute.
  • Network, internet and telephony infrastructure. As well as the current enterprise-grade networks (Campus Ethernet, WiFi and external connections), the Platform Solutions unit supports the performance Arista networks used for connecting our sequencers.
  • OpenStack and HPC. This unit runs the technical/operational services, e.g. Farm, iRods etc. This allows the Platform Solutions unit to focus on service delivery for all IT platforms, while the Science Solutions unit focuses on the best exploitation of those platforms.
  • Standard compute and all storage. The Platform Solutions unit supports all standard compute platforms (e.g. virtual machines, laptops, servers) regardless of their enterprise or scientific use.
  • Similarly, we support all enterprise-grade and research storage, e.g. iRods.
  • We enable public cloud usage where needed and provide tools to track expenditures.
  • Service Management for essential operations, including providing a Sanger Institute-wide digital environment that is safe, accessible and fit for purpose for our community of users.
  • Service desk. As a direct ‘customer-facing’ unit, this function ensures high levels of customer service and is a lightning rod for customer-oriented improvements.
  • End-user service delivery. Supporting end-user devices, including meeting room technologies, is also key to enabling combined physical and virtual presence.

In the wider Sanger Institute, the Platform Solution teams are part of the new Informatics and Digital Solutions (IDS) functions/structure to help improve and enable joined-up working. For example:

Providing fit-a-purpose digital infrastructure – To ensure the core digital environment at Sanger caters to the needs of our user communities across Campus and meets their data, computing, software, networking and security requirements.

Innovating IT to support the science This could be anything from data compression algorithms for multi-omics data sets to using new ‘FPGA’ (Field Programmable Gate Arrays) hardware to speed up CRISPR/Cas9 off-target detection. The Platform Solutions unit ensures that all new technology is properly supported and run.

Providing a co-creation service in taking on new research methodologies and data approaches – the platform solutions team makes our system engineering expertise open so it is available as a critical resource to all the scientific programmes and informatics teams, etc. For example, we aim to be the IT partner for any Principal Investigator (PI) or research group to help co-create/develop new analysis tools needed to support ongoing and emerging research.

Deploying and validating sequencing devices/technology – for new requirements arising from investment in sequencing Informatics technologies, Platform Solutions will provide the required network, storage and compute capacity to enable these new technologies. The new IT architect will help ensure that we deliver properly integrated and effective solutions with a low total cost of ownership.

Moving a workflow to operate in a hybrid cloud environment (on-prem and public cloud) – Supporting the Programme Informatics team and the new IDS Science Solutions team to adopt recommended/standard (where possible) approaches, components and toolsets to migrate existing workflows (compute and data) to the public cloud. This could be for either Sanger-own-use, or supporting collaborative projects, or even Open Science provision to the global community. This could also include ways of utilising hybrid methods of archiving our data stores/repositories.

High Performance Compute Stats

Number of Cores

30,000 cores

HPC Cores

22,000 cores

Cloud Cores

8,000 cores