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Digital Acceleration in Global Pharma

Vinita Dargan, TCS

To build the needed business agility in drug research and quickly enable the roll-out of new vaccines and drugs, a major global pharma company embarked on a digital acceleration journey encompassing their R&D, Pharma, Vaccine and other core divisions. The customer partnered with TCS to re-imagine its IT landscape for drug research to vaccine delivery.

As a first step, the cloud-based digital integration backbone was envisioned and implemented, integrating data from multiple sources and making it available in a secure, democratized and seamless manner to different external and internal partners/stakeholders for consumption and decision-making. Post this, modernizing legacy applications using cloud native principles and migrating to the cloud is being undertaken. This has helped streamline and improve time to market for the vaccine R&D to delivery lifecycle.


And welcome to TCS’s presentation at this exciting event of Kong Summit. Indeed, it’s exciting because this year’s theme has been connecting the digital world and we all have seen how digital collaboration and global connectivity helped us navigate through the COVID pandemic and catalyzed our motivations further to build a better future using technology. This exactly aligns with our TCS motto, “building on belief”, by aiming to make a meaningful difference and translating the aspiration of our business partners into reality. Let’s hear a short video about TCS.

Before moving forward, let me take a minute to introduce myself. I’m Vinita Dargan heading the API global practice for digital transformation here at TCS. I have been key adviser for varied customer engagements across region and industry verticals. Some of the key theses engagements I have led so far are helping a European major telecom customer with early mover advantage to secure 5G network by enabling an end to end digital transformation for needed business agility, enabling growth of revenue and brand repositioning of a global vision care product manufacturer for the iPad market. By building a personalized and connected consumer experience, envisioning and creating a fintech ecosystem and facilitating API marketplace platform for largest Indian bank to leverage power of API economy and particularly. And part of the large transformation program to bring omni channel experience for largest retailer in Australia and many more now coming back to our topic for today. Let’s see a couple of challenges need and what is our observation about the pharma industry? I’ll start by talking about our observation in the pharma industry and then take you through the solution DCS built for pharma companies to help them accelerate their drug research.

The pandemic has proven itself to be being a boom for the pharma major across the globe, unlike ever before, they needed to collaborate with other organizations across the geographical boundaries to develop an innovative, cost-effective and clinical-friendly new drugs within the shortest possible time period. By maintaining confidentiality of their drug and R&D programs as well, it pushed them to overhaul a complete ecosystem of supply chain, manufacturing, R&D, healthcare sectors, etc. At the same time, there was an onerous duty upon them to improve their working for a potential benefit of mankind. That this collaboration and innovation, whatever we are talking, also comes to the challenges of integrating multiple siloed applications, dealing with legacy applications and huge partner ecosystem of medical practitioners, clinical trial organization, regulatory bodies, so on and so forth. Bringing in change and change in agile and yet cost effectively was a challenge worth accepting with the above observation. We started promoting a solution for the global pharma customers. During ongoing pandemic, our customers started with its digital transformation journeys, aligning with the thoughts of bringing agility and mitigating all the mentioned challenges. We understand that to bring the needed change and mitigate mentioned challenges, multiple levers can be used like initiate technology consolidation, move away from multiple, siloed and redundant application. Adopt cloud strategy. Adoption of agile way of working. Enabling digital security. And also allowing that zero trust security across the integration layer.

To achieve this, we envisioned establishing a centralized digital spine to support the Digital Integration Initiative and let’s try now and highlight on the digital integration work that we have worked with our customers. So for dealing with this concept-based data to share clinical trial information, file-based communication is needed. API layer is needed, integration of application on cloud and across DTC [00:06:31] iPass [00:06:31] is needed for capturing patient writers and even through the IOM devices. We also need EDA, so it was easy to conclude that for dealing with this varied set of data and integration, we need a digital spine that can help expedite the critical drug rollout time and in an agile and cost effective way. Now, let’s see how we have heard the customer to set up this digital spine, which eventually intend to give a shape to the complete digital transformation program. We first started with defining the digital strategy. This included what system and applications do we want to communicate with? What systems we want to integrate and what data we want to communicate here. The type of information and feeds we want to work with. This then, followed by understanding of the current state architecture capturing requirement, then defining the future state architecture of the landscape. Once we had the road map defined and as is structured or the landscape defined, we started rationalizing and evaluating the technology stack. What we saw was they were dealing with lots of outdated applications and systems in place. All this gives us a mature architecture view.

But finally, what we want to see is a couple of the use cases from their own industry. A tried and tested on this particular pre-defined architecture. So the next step was starting with the pilot or the MVP step to execute and prove how the newly shaped architecture integrates and collaborate with all their existing systems, tools and technology in place, which is used by my by the scientists in the R&D labs, by the support and cooperation team, the analytics and the monitoring tools that they are using. Once this was finalized and accepted, we started with the phased-wise implementation of the defined journey. So what you see here is the high-level digital integration architecture, and the dotted region is the component of the digital spine, which we have built for various of our farmer customers. Here we start exposing and consuming the data through this API layer that are captured from various channels. Iot devices, wearables and exchange it with multiple partners, clinical research labs, academia and so on. The platform also takes care of critical consent based file communication through this MFT and the EDA component critical events research work is also communicated in a secure way to the event component. We also have taken care of the secure integration communication amongst various application and system through the cypath component with no or no impact on the consumer and the drug rollout. Sacred time. Now, moving the application to the appropriate cloud is again a tedious activity wherein we really want to understand the data and the application fitment for the appropriate cloud.

So usage of appropriate hyperscalers is very important in this exercise. Now, a digital integration spine acts as a glue on top of the existing domain applications, be it be drug modeling or clinical management system, or a provider management, patient management, disease modeling, drug screening and so on and so forth. And all the mentioned integrations are supported by four major pillars of analytics, DevOps model security and endpoint governance. Let’s try to zoom into the API management layer, which helps in capturing and exposing the critical data in controlled, regulated and democratized way to and with different identified personas in this scenario. Let’s elaborate on how Kong was leveraged at the API layer. Kong very beautifully gets placed in the multi-cloud topology with its light infra footprint, it’s easy to install it anywhere in the diagram. We have tried to depict how Kong Gateway can be deployed at required service exposure points. So wherever my underlying services microservices is built, there are there. I can set up my data plane there close to the service, and the control plane sits in the private DC on premise or on private cloud just to have the level of monitoring and the control over that data. Now, seeing the criticality of drug research work, which pandemic time has also given a glimpse of, we also understood how important it is to safeguard any R&D and drug manufacturing detail information from being hacked. So considering that fact, we defined the architecture now talking about security.

Kong has a wonderful way of securing the data not only to the north south traffic or which we call the perimeter security right. It will also enable us our east west traffic security right by wherever I need to integrate my mini microservices or any cloud native applications. I can go ahead and enable that Viacom and different type of security grant types are also enforced at different level based on the requirement. So here the data can be exposed not only in the democratized way, in a regulated way and also in a well-structured and secure the way in which we always say is ensuring zero-trust security. We also understand that with all the good practices we are trying to enforce, but said architecture, we have to deal with hundreds and thousands of services sure to standardize the end-to-end API development. We need to have a robust foundation framework and that consists of the controlled access to the system and the services via the mechanism. Security framework for SSA Inter and intra service communication is also defined. Then once the EPAs are created, they are available via sale sign and sell discovery through portals, setting up GPUs for different persona. They can also use this portal for setting up workspaces for making the logical separation between the two be used API so that one view doesn’t see what other view is building up. Introducing the traffic management policy into anything the right foundation services around the logging and the monitoring, which really enables my different personas to capture and fetch me data whenever we’re in a very streamlined process, then ensuring the right processes is also enforced.

The CICD process in Kong also helps us to introduce lots of automated way of ensuring that the API is also built in an automated way. The design is also designed. Specs are also checked. They can also introduce the EPA testing in the CD pipeline. So those steps are very beautifully defined in an automated INARA. Integration platform. It’s all about managing complete API lifecycle in a regulated way. So starting from inception to adoption of the API, how to identify best fit and useful API candidate, how to design an API. It’s not the specs that we are dealing with. It’s the base of the feature and the functionality that I’m trying to expose and the same needs to be given to us. API design into defining architecture around grouping and consolidation of API across multi-cloud in a scalable fashion. Now, to set up end to end API platform that’s needed foundation and supporting component in an automated way. Adoption of automation. Automated way of API development that can deal with different developers having the different maturity scale and still enable standardization across API development. The definition of dashboards for different stakeholders and allow them to extract intelligent information whenever, wherever needed. And making adoption seamless across and within the organization, it’s what we are aiming for with our complete bundle of suit. The majority of the aspects of digital spying was inspired by our digital integration platform offering, which is powered by Kong and other open source technologies, which engages all the customers they needed request the different channels provide a platform to manage end to end API lifecycle and deals with synchronous and asynchronous messages, from legacy integration services to microservices managed by Kong mesh.

So there’s a huge set of services that this platform provides. That also includes the complete lifecycle management offering and the services that we just mentioned in the previous slide, providing what this particular platform will allow me and provide me with is a scalable, secure governance platform.

To engage with my partner ecosystem and why didn’t my partner ecosystem? With the help of this digital integration spine architecture, we were able to mitigate almost all the challenges faced by customers, like with the factory way of development. We were able to streamline and accelerate the digital transformation journey in an agile way, ensuring end to end seamless integration. Multiple siloed application where modernized and replaced with rationalized technology stack and well integrated with the iPass component. The data security was addressed by enabling end-to-end digital security across integration, step PCO was reduced with the help of easy one-click type of a setup on any cloud. Better GPAs were defined for faster decision-making. Security in and around the integration stack was enabled. Now introduction of automation across API lifecycle management addresses the challenges of lowering the TCO and faster rollout cycle. This is it from my side. I say thank you so much for patiently listening to me.