Accounting for just 260 working days a year, 5 terabytes a day quickly mounts up to 1.3 petabytes a year – meaning CSIRO’s data bank will double in less than two years. While it seems an enormous growth rate – it’s smack in the middle of Gartner’s forecast for all industry sectors which is 40-60 per cent data growth per year.
Dr Robert Bell, technical services manager for the CSIRO’s advanced scientific computer centre, says that at present the CSIRO’s storage systems have enough headroom to handle that level of growth. The SGI Copan MAID system was brought into production at the CSIRO with 870 Tbyte formatted capacity in September – with the ability to build that out to 1.7 Petabytes.
Dr Bell said the MAID layer of storage helps to keep running costs under control – but also provide much faster access to data than is possible using tape. (CSIRO has access to 30 Petabytes of tape storage should it need it).
Two decades ago CSIRO started using Cray’s Data Migration Facility – a system designed to allow data storage to be sensibly tiered. That technology was inherited by SGI when it bought Cray, and since been redeveloped, but remains a fixture at the CSIRO.
One of the clear benefits of the tiered approach was the reduced power costs according to Dr Bell.
He said that the storage collection, housed in its Melbourne Docklands facility, today consumed about $13,000 worth of electricity each year. Had the entire collection been housed on fast expensive disk the electricity bill alone would have blown out to $500,000 a year.