Background: The MapReduce framework enables a scalable processing and analyzing of large datasets by distributing the computational load on connected computer nodes, referred to as a cluster. In Bioinformatics, MapReduce has already been adopted to various case scenarios such as mapping next generation sequencing data to a reference genome, finding SNPs from short read data or matching strings in genotype files. Nevertheless, tasks like installing and maintaining MapReduce on a cluster system, importing data into its distributed file system or executing MapReduce programs require advanced knowledge in computer science and could thus prevent scientists from usage of currently available and useful software solutions.
Results: Here we present Cloudgene, a freely available platform to improve the usability of MapReduce programs in Bioinformatics by providing a graphical user interface for the execution, the import and export of data and the reproducibility of workflows on in-house (private clouds) and rented clusters (public clouds). The aim of Cloudgene is to build a standardized graphical execution environment for currently available and future MapReduce programs, which can all be integrated by using its plug-in interface. Since Cloudgene can be executed on private clusters, sensitive datasets can be kept in house at all time and data transfer times are therefore minimized.
Conclusions: Our results show that MapReduce programs can be integrated into Cloudgene with little effort and without adding any computational overhead to existing programs. This platform gives developers the opportunity to focus on the actual implementation task and provides scientists a platform with the aim to hide the complexity of MapReduce. In addition to MapReduce programs, Cloudgene can also be used to launch predefined systems (e.g. Cloud BioLinux, RStudio) in public clouds. Currently, five different bioinformatic programs using MapReduce and two systems are integrated and have been successfully deployed. Cloudgene is freely available at http://cloudgene.uibk.ac.at.