Article was revised and updated on March 11, 2024

Modern science requires the accurate organization and storage of large amounts of data which is incompatible with traditional-based methods of information management. Software such as a LIMS system is used within laboratories to store, manage, and access a range of data.

There are different types of LIMS (laboratory information management systems): On-Premise, Cloud-Based SaaS, Web-Based, and Open-Source, each with its own features and capabilities.

This guide outlines the different types of LIMS (or LIS). We’ll discuss the features of LIMS software and explain the differences between the various types.

What are the different features of LIMS software?

LIMS has a range of features that facilitate the storage, management, and access to a range of laboratory data. These features can vary based on the type of LIMS software or industry. However, the best LIMS systems have the following features:

  • Automated workflow. With a LIMS system, laboratory staff can create and streamline custom workflows that suit their laboratory processes and procedures.
  • Request management. A LIMS allows laboratories to manage and track requests for various services.
  • Sample management. LIMS software allows laboratory staff to track and manage samples and provides capabilities to read barcodes.
  • Inventory management. LIMS software allows laboratory staff to manage materials across many storage units, locations, and geographies and integrate them with ERP systems for stock control and ordering.
  • Sample processing. Laboratory staff can track the progress of samples being analyzed by using a LIMS system.
  • Science data analytics. Once a workflow has been created, systems facilitate lab data fields, data storage, and data integrity and allow staff to interpret and analyze the data created. Also, consider an Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN) if you need to design, execute, and document experiments and assays.
  • Work queue management. A LIMS can allow laboratory staff to better manage their workload by prioritizing it to meet the deadlines for the most crucial tasks.
  • Instrument integration. A good LIMS needs instrument integration features. These ensure that data can be transferred quickly and efficiently between instruments and systems.
  • Quality control: LIMS systems should allow the enforcement of quality control procedures and best practices and provide audit trails on demand.

Types of LIMS system

On-Premise LIMS

An on-premise LIMS is a system installed on an organization’s servers. By installing an on-premise solution, an organization will have complete responsibility for the hardware and software, which can have advantages and disadvantages.

Installing an on-premise LIMS system requires a substantial upfront investment and a lot of ongoing technical support to run and maintain. However, with an On-Premise LIMS, organizations can closely monitor who is accessing the stored data and how they use it. Therefore, an on-premise LIMS is best suited to organizations where there are strict data security and compliance requirements, and there is the technical expertise needed to run and maintain it.

Cloud-Based LIMS

Unlike an on-premise solution, a cloud-based SaaS LIMS is hosted on a remote server, allowing it to be accessed at any time by anyone (providing that there is an internet connection).

Despite using a remote host, a cloud-based LIMS is an extremely secure system with strict encryption processes to ensure that the data is kept in the right place and can only be accessed by the right people. It is managed by an external team of specialists overseeing the installation and ongoing maintenance. This is a major benefit to organizations that lack the internal technical expertise or time required to maintain the other types of systems. Moreover, as it is hosted remotely, this format can require less upfront financial investment. However, it will require a monthly fee.

Web-Based LIMS

Like a cloud-based system, a web-based LIMS can be accessed by anyone, anywhere, provided that there is an internet connection. However, unlike cloud-based software, web-based LIMS will likely be installed on a local server or hosted on a lab’s network. Therefore, organizations with a web-based set-up can not only keep control over their data but also restrict remote access to authorized users only.

Industry-Specific LIMS

Unlike the other types of LIMS discussed, an industry-specific LIMS system has been specially designed to meet the individual needs and requirements of a specific industry or sector. It is a tailor-made solution that can include industry-specific features such as compliance tools or custom workflows and templates. The main advantage of this type of LIMS is that by offering relevant features, the software can better align with the challenges and goals of a particular sector.

Open-Source LIMS

A community of developers has developed an open-source system. It is different from the other types of LIMS because its source code is widely accessible and free to use, modify, and distribute. While this level of modification means that open-source LIMS systems can be customized to the needs of different organizations, it also means that a higher degree of technical expertise is required.

What are the different types of LIMS solutions?

Research LIMS

Many laboratories today use data entry spreadsheets or outdated software for lab management to perform tracking of samples through these processes. These methods usually lack proper traceability, searching, or other key efficiency features like instrument automation. This decreases lab efficiency reducing throughput, while also not delivering on proper data delivery and reporting.

Modern digital labs view process as an asset. Under this scenario, the lab should be able to configure complex process workflows quickly, chain the workflows together into overarching processes, track work progress, show work to be done, etc. Critical within the lab workflow is automation both from a physical processing standpoint, such as acquiring automated liquid handler robots, to the laboratory management systems integrating with robotics to send instructions and read output whether it’s sample quantitative/qualitative assessments or assay result data.

Looking to the future, scale is going to be critical. One certain thing is that data volumes will increase over time and not decrease. The research lab management software should be able to scale to massive data volumes with many data points and load it all in a timely fashion without bogging down the system performance over time.

With Sapio LIMS System, there is no limit on what types of processes can be tracked due to Sapio’s versatility to adapt to any lab process quickly via configuration. In addition to its configurable workflow engine, Sapio’s research lab management software is the only solution that offers real-time collaboration. When working through a lab workflow, any number of lab technicians can be working concurrently on the same workflow.


The dynamic nature of the NGS sequencing lab requires a LIMS that can adapt quickly to changing protocols and platforms. Sapio NGS LIMS is a system that handles clinical or research laboratories’ NGS sample tracking and processing needs. Sapio provides complete tracking of samples through the NGS pipeline from request through sample processing and results delivery. It provides automation integration as needed, preconfigured NGS sequencing workflows, management-level dashboards, full consumables management, and support for regulatory compliance such as CLIA.

Clinical & Diagnostics LIMS

Sapio Clinical LIMS software is built on the industry’s best informatics platform, with integrated LIMS software, Electronic Lab Notebook, medical CRM, and Scientific Data Management. Key clinical lab metrics, like turnaround times, queue times, process times, and more, are automatically calculated. But we don’t stop there; all captured data is cross-system, targeted, searchable, and can be visualized and even analyzed with our integrated data warehouse and analytics engine.

Histopathology LIMS

Histopathology is a common function in hospital laboratories, research institutes, pharma, and biotechnology. Sapio supports many types of histopathology-related processes with its histopathology lab software where labs may be getting tissue samples that need a histology review. The Sapio histopathology LIMS is targeted at a particular domain: the high throughput clinical or R&D lab working with large numbers of samples for assessing the effects of drugs on subjects. Applications include immune-toxicology evaluation and related assessments of cellular changes after exposure to a candidate drug.

Bioanalytical LIMS

Bioanalysis has become a key part of the pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic characterization in drug discovery and during various stages of drug development. Bioanalysis is the quantitative measurement of analytes in biological matrices, including tissue, blood, serum, urine, or other body fluids. Bioanalytical method validation and regulated bioanalysis are an integral part of a drug development program. Various laboratory platforms have been used to analyze chemical-based drug candidates, such as, but not limited to, high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS), liquid chromatography with ultraviolet detection (LC-UV), and others.

At the onset of method development, scientists carefully evaluate the properties of the analyte of interest and its metabolites against the currently available technological platforms. Because a bioanalytical method can be executed for clinical and non-clinical samples and during method development, the scientists can proceed with method validation and bioanalysis adhering to Good Laboratory Practice (GLP), other regulatory guidelines, and laboratory-specific Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

Sapio initializes a bioanalytical method by tracking the subjects, treatment groups, and chain of custody of a sample throughout a study’s lifecycle. Additionally, Sapio performs and maintains verification of instruments, laboratory calibration, and reagents against defined controls and expiration dates before executing a method specific to a study. Predefined Sapio LIMS templates will complete the remaining portion of the bioanalysis workflow(s).

The Sapio bioanalytical LIMS consists of the following components:

  • Instrument Management
  • Materials Management
  • Method Development
  • Reagent Preparation
  • Sample Preparation
  • STD & QC for Calibration
  • Method Development
  • Method Validation
  • Method Execution
  • Data Analysis and Review
  • KPI

Sapio bioanalytical LIMS is a complete solution to the bioanalysis pipeline. It addresses all the key components of the bioanalytical process from Project and Study setup, sample prep and processing, through method design and execution. Most process areas are fulfilled via workflow templates for an easy-to-use, intuitive experience for the end user, thus reducing training requirements to ensure system adoption. Instrument integrations are also in place to enable drag and drop loading of data, followed by data analysis in visual and interactive displays.

Stability LIMS

Sapio Stability LIMS is a system built to define and track Stability Studies details for various industries from inception to completion. This includes creating the manufacturing details, tracking sample batches/lots, scheduling pulls, and much more.

Bioprocessing LIMS

While Bioprocessing is a mature practice, fundamental challenges remain. In today’s digital age, many teams are still stuck with paper-based records, disparate sources of data and documentation, little transparency into the overall process, and a lack of the digital infrastructure required to collaborate and operate efficiently. In some cases, the opposite is true. Organizations of scale comprising highly specialized teams may be overwhelmed by the complex digital infrastructures manifested over time. Too many systems in place can result in the same core challenges. Sapio Sciences solves these challenges with its comprehensive bioprocessing software designed for organizations of any size and scale of complexity.

Discover Sapio LIMS

LIMS solutions have a range of features that support the collection and storage of vast amounts of data. From automated workflows to sample management, they can be customized to suit the specific needs of laboratories.

When researching the different types of systems, it is essential to understand their differences. Whether you need software that enables remote data access or require an out-of-the-box solution, there is a specific type of LIMS system to suit the needs of your organization.

Sapio’s LIMS system is a no-code, no-SQL platform created to empower laboratories through seamless integration, collaboration, and data management. With scalability and industry-specific compliance requirements built in, you can be sure that you have a solution that best suits your organization’s specific needs.

To learn more about Sapio LIMS or any of our solutions, contact us or request a demo today.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the specific security measures implemented in each type of LIMS system to protect sensitive laboratory data?

  • For On-Premise LIMS, security measures typically include robust access controls, encryption of data both at rest and in transit, regular security patches and updates, and possibly additional measures like firewall configurations and intrusion detection systems.
  • Cloud-based LIMS providers often employ advanced encryption techniques, secure authentication protocols, regular security audits, and compliance with industry standards such as HIPAA or GDPR.
  • Web-based LIMS may offer similar security measures as Cloud-Based LIMS, with the added benefit of allowing organizations to control access more directly through their own servers.
  • Industry-specific LIMS solutions may tailor security measures to meet the specific compliance requirements of the industry they serve, potentially including features like role-based access control and audit trails.
  • Open-source LIMS systems rely on the community to ensure security. Developers often adhere to best practices for secure coding and allow users to customize security measures based on their specific needs.

2. Can LIMS software integrate with existing laboratory equipment and instruments, or does it require specialized hardware?

  • Many LIMS systems, regardless of type, offer integration capabilities with various laboratory instruments. This integration can often be achieved through standardized protocols such as HL7 or ASTM.
  • While some specialized hardware or adapters may be required for specific instruments, LIMS vendors typically provide guidance and support for integrating with common laboratory equipment.
  • Cloud-based and Web-Based LIMS solutions may offer additional flexibility in integration, as they can often connect with instruments remotely without needing on-site hardware installations.

3. What level of technical expertise is required to implement and maintain each type of LIMS system?

  • On-premise LIMS systems typically require a higher level of technical expertise for initial setup and ongoing maintenance, including server configuration, database management, and software updates.
  • Cloud-based and Web-Based LIMS solutions often require less technical expertise for setup, as the hosting provider handles infrastructure management and updates. However, some technical knowledge may still be necessary for configuration and customization.
  • Industry-specific LIMS solutions may require specialized domain knowledge and technical expertise, particularly for configuring workflows and templates tailored to the industry’s needs.
  • Open-source LIMS systems may require a higher level of technical expertise for customization and troubleshooting, as users have direct access to the source code and are responsible for maintaining their own installations.

4. How does each type of LIMS system handle data backups and disaster recovery?

  • On-premise LIMS systems typically allow organizations to implement their own data backup and disaster recovery strategies, including regular backups to off-site locations and redundant server configurations.
  • Cloud-based LIMS providers often offer built-in data backup and disaster recovery solutions. To ensure data resilience, automated backups are stored in geographically distributed data centers.
  • Web-based LIMS solutions may vary in their approach to data backups and disaster recovery, depending on whether they are hosted by the organization or a third-party provider. Organizations hosting their own web-based LIMS may implement their own backup procedures.
  • Industry-specific LIMS solutions may offer specialized data backup and disaster recovery features tailored to the industry’s needs, such as compliance with regulatory requirements for data retention and disaster recovery planning.
  • Open-source LIMS systems may rely on users to implement their data backup and disaster recovery solutions. However, some community-supported distributions may offer built-in tools or guidance for these purposes.

5. Are there any limitations or constraints in terms of scalability for each type of LIMS system, especially regarding the volume and complexity of data?

  • On-premise LIMS systems may face scalability limitations based on the organization’s servers and infrastructure capacity. However, organizations can upgrade hardware or add servers to accommodate increased data volume.
  • Cloud-based and web-based LIMS solutions often offer greater scalability, as they can dynamically leverage the hosting provider’s resources to adjust capacity based on demand. However, organizations may face constraints related to bandwidth limitations or subscription tiers.
  • Industry-specific LIMS solutions may be optimized for scalability within the specific domain or industry they serve. However, organizations may need to consider potential limitations based on the complexity of their workflows and data requirements.
  • Open-source LIMS systems may offer scalability depending on the resources available to the organization for hosting and maintaining the software. Community support and contributions can also impact scalability, as active development and optimization can improve performance over time.

Useful Resources

  1. Understanding Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) – National Institutes of Health (NIH)
    This article published by the NIH provides an in-depth overview of LIMS, including its role in laboratory management, key features, implementation considerations, and future trends, making it a valuable resource for researchers and laboratory professionals.
  2. Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS): A Review – International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research (IJSER)
    This review paper offers a comprehensive analysis of LIMS, covering its historical development, architecture, functionalities, benefits, challenges, and emerging trends. It provides readers with a detailed understanding of the subject.
  3. “Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS): A Critical Review – ResearchGate
    This critical review on ResearchGate examines various aspects of LIMS, including its evolution, components, applications, benefits, limitations, and future directions, offering insights into the complexities and challenges associated with implementing and using LIMS in laboratory settings.
  4. “Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS): A Review” – Taylor & Francis Online
    This review article published on Taylor & Francis Online provides a comprehensive overview of LIMS, including its historical development, functionalities, benefits, challenges, and recent advancements, serving as a valuable reference for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers in the field of laboratory informatics.