Christian Strauch and his team at F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG have won the Innovation Award 2009 for their

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The Sample Management Module (SMM) of the Clinical Information Management system it is used for so-called “Items lifecycle tracking” and it has several amazing peculiarities:

  • Flexibility: Undergoing SMM the international and country-specific regulations that apply to pharmaceutical systems, it needs to be extremely flexible in order to accept the most disparate kinds of samples without code changes. This is necessary because code changes imply a complete re-validation of the system, which is time- and cost-intensive.
    SMM achieves its highly flexibility through an “extreme” use of the XML features provided by SQL Server 2008.
  • Responsiveness: The web-based front-end of the application is required to deliver responses within 5 seconds. Considering the large amount of data (currently 10Mio records in the main table but expected to reach soon 30Mio) and the extensive use of XML as a datatype (think about indexing and parsing!), the achieved responsiveness below 5 seconds is remarkable – And have some implications on the necessary hardware, discussed below.
  • Context-Sensitiveness: The entire web front-end is context-sensitive. By clicking on any item, a context menu is built on the fly with the operation available on that item, based on the peculiarities of the item and the right of the current user.

The result is an AJAX-based front-end (watch demo video), deployed on 15 web servers. This front-end “extracts” its data from a SQL Server 2008 database on a Server with 16 core and 256GB of RAM, using SAN-based storage. It is currently the most powerful server at Roche!

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At minute 17:50 of the video Keynote Developers & Architects you can find the presentation of this case and a demo of the AJAX-based User Interface. This video is available under http://www.microsoft.com/switzerland/msdn/de/techdays/Presentations.aspx.

An awesome project on the newest Microsoft technologies with a lot of innovative ideas to produce this very flexible and responsive solution.