Pharmaceutical firm uses server solution to boost efficiency bringing drugs to market
To better support global researchers and international clinical drug trials, Verona Pharma upgraded to the all-in-one server solution Windows Small Business Server 2011. The company is taking advantage of improved Microsoft SharePoint site capabilities and a larger SQL Server database to consolidate clinical data so globally dispersed researchers can access it more easily and securely from anywhere in the world.
Verona Pharma has three potential drug treatments for respiratory and inflammatory diseases under development. The company established research and development collaborations with King's College London and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and maintains offices in both cities.
When a drug is approved for commercial sale, it represents the culmination of years of research and clinical trials. When Lui Franciosi joined Verona Pharma as Chief Operating Officer in 2006, he installed a user-friendly server solution to drive productivity and accelerate time-to-market. “Our founders are brilliant scientists, but they are not computer savvy,” Franciosi says. “I called Microsoft and asked for a good IT service provider in London and was referred to The Full Circle. Our consultant there, Reuben Cook, introduced us to Windows Small Business Server 2003.”
Since then, Franciosi and Cook have used Windows Small Business Server 2003 to promote business computing within the company, deploying laptop computers and encouraging everyone to upload files to the server to more easily share information.
We are dedicated to the discovery of drugs that will help improve people’s lives. With Windows Small Business Server 2011, we have a platform to help us get there."
Lui Franciosi, Chief Operating Officer, Verona Pharma
Verona Pharma stored data in the Windows Small Business Server 2003 intranet, but its database was nearly full. “Our research data is our lifeblood and it needs to be accessible, searchable, and secure,” says Franciosi. “During international clinical trials, we need to make that data available to regulators, such as government health departments, and potential licensees who might be interested in obtaining a license from our company to develop and/or sell our products.”
At the suggestion of The Full Circle, Verona Pharma deployed Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard after evaluating its upgraded functionality. “Microsoft software has always been miles ahead in the corporate culture,” says Franciosi. “Windows Small Business Server 2011 gives us access to enterprise-level software in a package that is easy to manage and easy to use.”
Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard includes the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system. Verona Pharma opted for the Windows Small Business Server 2011 Premium Add-On that includes Hyper-V virtualisation technology. In January 2011, The Full Circle installed a new server with Hyper-V and virtualised Windows Small Business Server 2011 to run as a guest on the host. “When there was a small electrical fire at the Verona Pharma office, I asked the office manager to bring me the server, and thanks to virtualisation all I had to do was rehost the virtual hard disk file on the server, “ he says. “Everyone was back on email in a couple of hours.”
Verona Pharma is using Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard Edition for Small Business to support its growing intranet site and to take advantage of additional capabilities in business intelligence, and data warehousing. It is using Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 1 communication tools to provide employees an improved web mail experience with Microsoft Office Outlook Web Access. And the company can offer a more secure and easily searchable intranet with the Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010 collaboration solution. Consultants can use Remote Web Access for highly secure access to corporate files from anywhere that they have an Internet connection.
Franciosi is thrilled that the upgrade occurred with no disruption to the business and few complaints from researchers. “Upgrading to Windows Small Business Server 2011 and using the latest Outlook Web Access was so intuitive that everyone just got on with their work,” he says.
Verona Pharma now has a scalable, reliable IT platform for growth, with server software working in the background and requiring little maintenance to support the company as it brings its drugs to market. Specific benefits for the life sciences company include:
Better access to data. Verona Pharma plans to add more clinical data to its SharePoint site and build new workflows to expedite the execution of clinical trials. “Instead of flying in people to look at hard copies, we can assign restricted access to regulators and potential licensees to examine documents in their own offices,” says Franciosi. “With the search ability of SharePoint sites, it is possible to drill down to specific patients with specific results on specific days. With access to this level of detail, everyone can work with the data more productively. Scientists can expedite research, regulators can more easily monitor the progress of drug trials, and potential licensees can quickly determine the viability of our product, reducing time-to-market for Verona Pharma.”
Improved data security. All that data is now safer than before, with increased network protection in Windows Small Business Server 2011 and new capabilities to monitor computers for overall security health. “The insight into the health across the network and the hourly alerts make our job monitoring the Verona Pharma environment much easier,” says Cook.
User-friendly email. Global consultants and researchers are impressed with the rich functionality of Microsoft Outlook Web Access 2010. “Everyone is saying that it’s like running the desktop version of the Outlook messaging client without the desk,” says Franciosi. “And they love the new Conversation View that makes it easy to track long email threads and follow key developments.”