ORCA is a platform for bioinformatics analysis. It is suited for those wishing to conduct self-serve analysis using their own existing data.

A bioinformatics space for bioinformaticians and computational biologists.


ORCA provides access to a menu of validated bioinformatics software and the power to use these inside a secure and private containerized environment. These private containers are backed by larger mounted storage volumes and dedicated compute nodes to ensure sufficient resources for the demanding needs of bioinformatics analysis.

This Phase-1 implementation of ORCA, is ready to process data now. However, this is only the beginning: ORCA phase-2 will grow to include substantially more compute and storage resources, and an even larger library of software. The system will be optimized and enhanced based on the feedback received from users of the Phase-1 platform.

ORCA includes hundreds of bioinformatics and analysis software applications and libraries available in Brewsci/bio and are installed using the Linuxbrew package manager. 

How it works

ORCA is available as part of the GSC Advanced Research Computing Platform and Compute Canada Node.
Platform services at the GSC are collaborative and are available and accessible to any and all qualified researchers based on our Terms of Service.
  • ORCA users access the environment through SSH via a gateway address.
  • The ORCA platform then directs their connection into their own private container and mounts their dedicated storage volume.
  • Users then have access to a standard shell where they may launch jobs and return to the container over time to check status and retrieve results.
  • Data transfers in and out of ORCA can be via SCP, SFTP, and/or rsync.
  • There are currently no limits for job duration and since idle containers use only negligible resources the available compute resources are maximized to be shared by all users of the platform.

Terms of Service

Software Packages Available

ORCA includes hundreds of bioinformatics and analysis software applications and libraries.
Follow the link to GitHub ORCA Installed Tools for the complete list.

GitHub ORCA Installed Tools currently contains 576 packages curated by orca@bcgsc.ca


To request access or additional information, please contact our Project Management Team at:


Genome Sciences Centre, BC Cancer Agency
Suite 100, 570 West 7th Ave
Vancouver, BC, V5Z 4S6

Lauren Coombe

Assistant Bioinformatics Coordinator
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