BLAST Searches at a Cloud Provider

Have a lot of BLAST searches to run? Run it on the cloud!

Do you have difficulties running high volume BLAST searches? Do you have proprietary sequence data to search and cannot use the NCBI BLAST web site? Do you want to avoid the work to set-up and maintain stand-alone BLAST? If you answered yes to any of these questions, read on!

NCBI provides BLAST+ in a Docker image so that you can conveniently use it on the cloud (among other environments). BLAST workloads often come in bursts. You may want to search a large number of sequences all at once and need the results as soon as possible to enable further analysis. Often the number of sequences and rapid turnaround needed preclude using a web service. In many situations like this you also don’t have a continuous need that would justify an investment in your own dedicated server. Using BLAST in the cloud environment is an ideal solution to this dilemma. Popular BLAST databases are also available in the cloud allowing you to run computations close to where the data is, eliminating the time and resources needed to download large data files to your local network. In the cloud, you are not restricted by your local compute resources or limits on public web services and don’t have to buy compute power that sits idle most of the time.

What are the next steps?

Getting started is easy! Having familiarity with cloud services and Docker is helpful, but not necessary. This implementation of BLAST has been tested on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Amazon Web Services (AWS), however by using open and de facto standards such as Docker and Linux commands, it should be easy to port to other cloud platforms and operating environments. Instructions have been created to get started using BLAST in the Cloud and for database information. NCBI BLAST databases are pre-loaded on the Google Cloud and Amazon Cloud, providing fast access.


We are always listening and welcome your feedback at BLAST Support Center.