The Kubernetes Current Blog

Rafay Helps Regeneron Get New Drugs to Market Quickly and Efficiently

Regeneron has brought to market many novel drugs to address some of the most problematic diseases of our time, including cancer and autoimmune conditions. Recently at the AWS re:Invent show, Rafay’s CEO Haseeb Budhani and Rakesh Singh from Regeneron discussed how the Rafay approach to Kubernetes has helped them speed up drug development.

What are some of the things that you’re hearing in the booth from customers? What’s been some of the feedback?

Haseeb: Enterprises are truly adopting this idea of Kubernetes containers, serverless, and so on. They’re all trying to figure out the enterprise strategy for these things. They’re also thinking beyond technology and thinking operationalization of these technologies and that’s not the same thing. There’s a toy and then there’s the real thing. That’s the gap that every enterprise customer I talked to has understood.

But attending events like Re:Invent is a great investment for Rafay because we met such amazing companies who are essentially all saying exactly the same thing: solving for automation governance is really, really hard. At one point when the economy was going crazy, we could keep hiring people, but we can’t do that anymore. So we’re all out looking for automation strategies that allow us to do more with the teams we have. And that’s exactly what Rafay is here for.

“If you want to save money, the cloud’s the place to do it.”
– Adam Selipsky, keynote speaker Re:invent

Regeneron is a technology company that delivers lifesaving pharmaceuticals. Where do the cloud and Rafay fit into your strategy?

Rakesh: Cloud has been a backbone of Regeneron’s compute strategy for a very long time now. The evolution from a traditional compute structure to a more serverless one has been growing at a rapid pace. I would say we are seeing exponential growth of the adoption of the Kubernetes world, and we are looking forward to our partnership with Rafay to further enhance it.

As Haseeb mentioned, efficiency is the key. We need to do more with less. Resourcing is critical, and cloud has evolved and allowed us to do more things in a more efficient manner. We are putting more compute onto containers and the DevOps journey is increasingly getting faster and faster.

From a developer standpoint, traditionally, the computer is sitting idle quite a lot. Isn’t there a cost to that?

Rakesh: Yes, but serverless technologies allow us to use the compute as needed, so whenever you need it, it is available. You run your workload on cloud and after that, it shuts down or goes to minimal state, and you don’t need to pay as much.

Where does Rafay fit in that whole equation?

Haseeb: Serverless has a paradigm. If you step back from the idea of containers versus Lambda-type functions, developers should write their code, check it in, and then they never have to think about it again. That should be the pace. If they want to debug their application, there should be a nice front end where they go and interact with their application and that’s it.

What is Kubernetes? “I don’t care.” That’s the right answer.

Usually the initial adopters are developers who do the heavy lifting. Developers want to learn, they want to solve these problems. But then, the platform organization and an enterprise own the platform. Developers can go back to doing their job, which is writing code.

That’s where Rakesh’s team comes in. They are building the standard at Regeneron. Whether you are writing a long-lasting app, which is going to run in a container, or you’re writing an event-driven application, which is going to be a function, Rafay will give you the necessary tooling and plumbing to take care of all these things.

Rafay has to make Rakesh’s system successful so that he can service thousands and thousands of different individuals. Collectively, we have to make sure that their developer experience is optimal.

In the Kubernetes keynote by Barry Cooks, one of the things he said was that in a survey they did, CIOs said 80% of developers’ time is wasted on infrastructure and not on innovation.

We need to bring that 80 percent back so that 100 percent of the work can be on innovation.

That’s what we do. If we can offload this work to our platform, we can save a lot of work cycles from the developer’s perspective.

How does transforming the developer experience impact Regeneron’s overall business?

Rakesh: The key thing is to increase developers’ productivity. Do more with less. That is key to our strategy. With the increase in business and compute demand, and hiring resources getting more difficult than ever, this is something we need to focus on. We need to make sure that we are leveraging platforms and tools to enable our developers to focus on key business activity rather than doing redundant things and things which we can leverage some other tooling and platform for.

Is this something that can improve the developer experience and their productivity—faster time to market? Is this even accelerating drug discovery in some cases?

Rakesh: COVID is a great example of that. We were able to fast-track our drug discovery and get new drugs to market at a much faster pace. That whole process was expedited using these tools and processes. We are very proud of that.

Regeneron has invested heavily in cloud in recent years, and now we’re focusing on hybrid cloud. Multiple cloud providers or platforms are strategies to do this. Rafay is a big leader in that particular space. We felt that we needed to engage, or partner with, Rafay, to enable those capabilities; not just on AWS, but across the board.

One single tool, one single process, one single knowledge base helps us achieve efficiency. Less chaos, less complexity.

Regeneron is a great use case for Rafay. It’s so tangible: life sciences. We all get that. Especially coming out of the pandemic.

What do you tell customers the top three differentiators of Rafay are, and why they should use Rafay on top of EKS?

Haseeb: We have some pretty cool features in our product. We have access management and zero-trust models and cluster provisioning. All these are very nice things, but it always comes down to exactly the same thing: every large enterprise started their journey independent of Rafay because they didn’t know who we were. Last year we were a young company, now we are a larger company. But all these firms are basically building towards a roadmap which Rafay truly understands.

In my opinion, and I’m confident when I say this; we understand their journey better than any other company in the market.

The reason why we have the flurry of customers we have, and the product has the capacity that it does, is because we have complete clarity on what a pharmaceutical company or a financial customer’s company or a high-tech company’s journey to the cloud and automation for modern infrastructure will look like.

There are a lot of great answers for the “what.” What do we do? Regeneron doesn’t care, right? They are trying to solve a bigger problem. They are trying to get their researchers to go faster. So when they want to run a model, they should be able to do it right now. They look for a tool to solve the business problem. We figured out how to have that conversation and explain why Rafay helps multiply the bandwidth they have in their organization.

To that end, we have some great technology, but that’s a secondary issue. The why is more important than the what. This is the important thing: Every enterprise is on exactly the same journey, and if you think about it from a purely economic efficiency perspective, that is not a good investment for our industry. If everybody’s solving the same problem, that’s a waste of resources. What is the point of the cloud? We all used to build data centers. That was not efficient. We all went to the cloud because it’s more efficient to have somebody else like AWS solve this problem for us, so we can now focus on the next level problem. Rafay is solving that problem so that Rakesh and Regeneron can focus on drug discovery, not on Kubernetes.

Rakesh: That’s correct. It’s all about efficiency, right? Doing things, learning from each other’s experience and building upon it. So these things have been solved.

From an infrastructure perspective, what’s next on your journey?

Rakesh: Right now, the roadmap we have is making sure that the workloads are running more efficiently, and are more secure. As we go into these expandable serverless technologies, there are more challenging opportunities for us to solve. We need to make sure that with the world order we are living in, we are doing more securely what we were doing previously. Our roadmap is to leverage the power of cloud in doing more things on demand. We are invested in multiple cloud platforms and are looking forward to leveraging a technology that is truly cloud-native and on which we can leverage things together.

If you had a bumper sticker, what would it say about Regeneron as a technology company that’s delivering therapeutics?

Rakesh: The bumper sticker would say “Discovering new drugs. Quickly and efficiently.”

If you had a billboard on Highway 101 in Redwood City about Rafay and what it’s enabling organizations and enterprises across the globe to achieve, what would it say?

Haseeb: Our customers call us the “vCenter for Kubernetes”, and we all know what vCenter is. We all know why vCenter is so amazingly successful: because it takes IT engineers and gives them superpowers. You can run a data center. What is the vCenter for this new world? It’s us.

Rafay’s customers call us the vCenter of Kubernetes. That’s an incredible moniker because it truly codifies the roadmap. It codifies what we are delivering today.

Everyone benefits from new drugs being available more quickly and more efficiently. The development environment of Kubernetes, with the addition of Rafay, gives Regeneron a significant advantage in making those drugs come to market when the world needs them. Rafay is a differentiator in the Kubernetes world, delivering a powerful platform to help make that happen.


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