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Chr. Hansen

Chr. Hansen

Posted: 10/18/2013

Danish Research-Based Firm Unlocks Data from Multiple Sources with Hybrid Cloud

Chr. Hansen, a leading developer of natural ingredients for several industries, wanted better access to data from multiple sources, including automated laboratory equipment, sensors, and databases. To ease research, the company implemented a hybrid cloud solution based on Windows Azure HDInsight Service. As a result, Chr. Hansen can easily collect and process data from 100 times more trials than previously. And by extending its on-premises infrastructure to the cloud, the company implemented an Apache Hadoop cluster in less than a week and gained more flexibility with minimal infrastructure investment.

"Now, with HDInsight Service, we can use data that is produced by our automated equipment. We can save time processing the information and spend more time interpreting it. Microsoft Big Data technology is the perfect solution for the new challenges we face."

Morten Meldgaard
Project Director, Chr. Hansen

Business Needs

Chr. Hansen is a global provider of natural ingredients such as cultures and enzymes for the food, pharmaceutical, nutritional, and agricultural industries. With 2,300 employees in 30 countries, the company’s operations include multiple product development centers. To develop innovative products for a global customer base, Chr. Hansen continuously looks for new ways to work with data as well as ingredients.

Over the years, Chr. Hansen had increasingly automated its laboratory processes to improve efficiency and accuracy. In addition to improving operations, the automated equipment—including robots, temperature sensors, and other devices—produced a growing volume of complex data.

In 2010, Chr. Hansen replaced paper notebooks with electronic laboratory notebooks (ELN), which improved its ability to find and share data. However, the company still lacked an efficient way to capture, process, and make data available for use in diverse contexts. Moreover, manually collecting and analyzing the data in spreadsheets was a labor-intensive, time-consuming project. Morten Meldgaard, Project Director at Chr. Hansen, says, “We wanted to be able to look for patterns in large amounts of data that would help us examine factors ranging from the gene composition of our bacteria to the way it behaves in yogurt.”

Chr. Hansen also sought to eliminate information silos so that it could facilitate scientific inquiry across disciplines. However, to meet diverse research needs, the company required a flexible solution that could store data in an unstructured format instead of a predefined schema.


Chr. Hansen asked Platon, a Microsoft partner with a gold competency in business intelligence, to help implement a Big Data solution based on Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise software running on-premises and Windows Azure HDInsight Service running on the Windows Azure platform. With a hybrid cloud deployment, the company would be able to augment its existing infrastructure with the distributed-processing power of an Apache Hadoop cluster.

In June 2013, Platon and Chr. Hansen began a pilot project that would process data from ELNs with HDInsight Service. Platon created a loosely defined data model in HDInsight Service that could be worked with using tools such as Microsoft Excel spreadsheet software and MATLAB programs. The researchers use MATLAB programs for advanced analysis, and they also take advantage of SQL Server 2012 PowerPivot for Excel and SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services to combine data from multiple experiments. The company looks forward to directly integrating HDInsight Service with its laboratory equipment, including sensors and robotics systems.


With a Big Data solution based on a Microsoft hybrid cloud deployment, Chr. Hansen is maximizing its information assets and improving daily operations while opening the door to future innovation. Other benefits include rapid, affordable implementation and increased flexibility.

Optimizes R&D Operations

Chr. Hansen is already seeing opportunities to improve daily operations. For example, instead of running experiments with yogurt cultures in three-liter containers, the company can now work with data collected from robots that handle much smaller, milliliter-sized samples. Meldgaard says, “By taking advantage of HDInsight Service, we can easily collect and process data from 100 times more trials, and look at more detailed information as a result, including chemical composition, physical properties, and sensor data.”

Maximizes Information Assets

Data is now more accessible with a flexible, hybrid cloud solution. “We needed to set data free,” explains Meldgaard. ”With HDInsight Service, we can realize the full value potential of our scientific data. We can save time processing the information and spend more time interpreting it. Microsoft Big Data technology is the perfect solution for the new challenges we face.”

And by bringing together structured and unstructured data from multiple sources, Chr. Hansen looks forward to future innovation. “For example, if a lunchtime discussion sparks an idea about correlating different types of data, researchers can go back to the lab and immediately begin the analysis,” says Meldgaard. “This solution enables us to rethink the way we work with data so that we can get the most value from it.”

Speeds Access to Big Data While Controlling Costs

By using cloud services, Chr. Hansen was able to quickly expand the capabilities of its existing, on-premises IT environment without investing in further training or infrastructure. “If we’d had to purchase servers, storage devices, and software, and install it all in-house, it would have been a very different and a much more long-term project,” Meldgaard points out. “It was simply so much faster to do this in the cloud with Windows Azure. We were able to implement the solution and start working with data in less than a week.”

Increases Flexibility and Scalability

Now, instead of working within the limitations of its IT infrastructure, Chr. Hansen can easily adapt technology to meet its own changing requirements.

“One of the benefits we’ve seen with a hybrid cloud solution based on Windows Azure is that we’re much more flexible,” says Meldgaard. “According to our daily needs, we can scale up or down if we need more storage or processing power. This solution has huge potential to be used not only in R&D, but also in areas such as production and finance.”

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