Minnesota Supercomputing Institute Accomodates High-Volume Data Growth with Active Archive Alliance

The Active Archive Alliance announced that the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (MSI) has implemented a 400 terabyte integrated tape and disk active archive of unstructured data to manage the exponential growth of user data that needs to be stored and retrieved each year. MSI is a research community of approximately 3,000 users accessing and storing large volumes of content on a regular basis. MSI’s active archive system guarantees that its researchers will have reliable, online and efficient access to their archived data.

“We manage and store large volumes of data so it was important to select a file archive solution that is scalable and can grow as our capacity needs increase,” said Jeff McDonald, assistant director for HPC Operations at Minnesota Supercomputing Insti­tute. “Equally important, we needed a system that provides a high level of data reliability and good metadata management to make it easy to find the data upon request for retrieval.”

The MSI active archive solution includes the Spectra Logic T950 enterprise tape library, with one partition connected to a 700 TB SGI CXFS shared file system using SGI DMF for file archive storage, and a second partition connected to MSI’s existing Sun ZFS file system and NetApp disk storage using a Tivoli client for data backup to tape. Since the initial implementation of its active archive solution, the tape library has grown from 300 to 400 terabytes and is expected to increase capacity to more than 1 petabyte within the next six months as additional online storage is required.

By applying a unified file system to expand over disk and tape library technologies, MSI can now enable a persistent view of the data in its archives and have fast, easy access to the data. Other benefits of the data storage solution implemented with the T950 tape storage included superior expandability and scalability as well as high reliability and high data storage density.

“By implementing an active archive, MSI is able to ensure high storage density, reliability and ready access to users’ nearline and archived file data in the same storage solution that is utilized for backups and data protection,” said Molly Rector, chairman of the Active Archive Alliance, and executive vice president of product management and worldwide marketing at Spectra Logic. “In addition, the T950 enterprise tape library is capable of scaling to very large capacities, and it provides industry leading density that minimizes floor space requirements.”

MSI is an interdisciplinary research program spanning all colleges of the University of Minnesota. It provides supercomputing resources and user support to faculty and their research groups. It is a key program in the University’s broad-based digital technology effort, supporting collaborative research within the University and the state of Minnesota as well as education related to supercomputing and scientific computing for undergraduates and graduates.

A full case study of this project is available online at:  www.activearchive.com/education/case-studies.

The Active Archive Alliance also unveiled its new website today at www.activearchive.com. The website offers quick and easy access to useful information on active archives, including case study examples and expanded access to additional resources and contacts.

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