Thursday, 23 February 2012 13:03

Storage demands prompt ANU cloud installation


The Australian National University in Canberra has completed the installation of a high performance private data cloud storage solution from SGI tailored for the needs of its research and corporate users, and for its national computing role in National Computational Infrastructure, Australia's national peak computing partnership which includes CSIRO, Bureau of Meteorology and Geoscience Australia.

The ANU's  Director of Information Technology Services, Allan Williams, said the university's data requirements were continually growing and it needed a reliable robust solution to meet the challenge presented by increased data demands. 'Developing and deploying an internal data storage cloud solution gives us a significant expansion capability with delivery flexibility to meet our academic and core administrative needs. The SGI solution underpins a core element in developing an effective data management strategy for the University.'

Williams said the project has been driven by the growth in storage demand across the organisation and a desire to implement a system that would deliver improved efficiency and services, better value for money, and cater for the future.

The University's data has been doubling every 14-18 months, and Williams said that at the same time the number of disparate data silos had been increasing across the organisation as groups attempted locally to solve their challenges. 'The building of the new data cloud provides a single effective approach to address all of the storage requirements of the University.'

According to Williams, ANU realised that the opportunity existed through economies of scale to significantly improve the manner in which the university managed its growing data volumes. The Division of Information (DOI) and the National Computing Infrastructure (NCI) groups had aligned the requirements for storage infrastructure to support their initiatives to present a single architecture for performance, functionality and growth. 'As a result, the new infrastructure is spread across two locations to provide increased resiliency on the ANU campus in Acton, Australian Capital Territory.'

Dr Ben Evans, who oversees data activities for NCI, said the organisation's data storage systems were an important infrastructure for its high performance modelling and data-intensive research.  'We required a flexible and reliable platform to manage data in diverse application areas, such as astronomy, climate, environment, geophysics and the social sciences. With this installation, and ongoing collaboration with SGI, we aim to achieve new level of data service performance and resiliency that integrates with our HPC and cloud services.'

Nick Gorga, SGI general manager, Australia and New Zealand, said that to scale NCI data archive volumes, the cloud uses the SGI Data Migration Facility (DMF) tiered storage and Spectra Logic tape libraries, with capacity of up to 14PB of nearline storage and significant capacity to grow as needs dictate. 'FalconStor virtualisation servers enhance online stores with dynamic SSD caches while accelerating Virtual Machine backups use TimeMark and HyperTrac technologies.'

Gorga said the installation includes over 11PB of SGI InfiniteStorage RAID technology, NAS appliances and 8Gbps fibre channel switching to unify the various components into a cloud delivering comprehensive storage services.

According to Gorga, SGI took responsibility for the overall project and worked with its partners Independent Data Solutions-Group, Spectra Logic and QLogic to implement the solution, as well as working closely with ANU to optimise the data cloud.

 'Data is the lifeblood of any organisation. The ability to manage it efficiently and cost effectively empowers an organisation to make great decisions and discoveries. We are confident ANU will reap significant benefits over the coming years,' Gorga said.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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