Marine Research School Implements Virtual Storage Solution

The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami said it has implemented an ONStor network attached storage (NAS) solution in its two data centers. The school, comprising 100 faculty members, 190 graduate students, and 250 research support staff, is using the ONStor Bobcat NAS gateway to gain a single view into storage resources.

"ONStor's virtual file servers act as regular Windows file servers on our network, but without many of the software update issues of regular Windows computers," said Michael Anderson, director of computing at the school. "By loading a standardized software image on the ONStor unit, we don't have to deal with the downtime and time consumption that updating multiple Windows machines require."

An operational challenge for the school results from the distributed nature of how research is conducted. Each project tends to favor a different technology or solution, and storage purchasing decisions are frequently based on the ability to share information across parallel technology with colleagues at other institutions. This collaboration often means that the technology used in the data centers isn't standardized, limiting what disk subsystems can be purchased and how they're deployed and managed.

"With ONStor, a single methodology for providing network-attached storage is possible, even with our many different varieties of disk systems," said Anderson. "We want our scientists to view disk storage as something that 'just exists' out on the network--like a dial tone when you pick up a telephone. ONStor interoperates with several of our incumbent mass-storage solutions and offers us the flexibility to integrate other data management solutions as required."

The School's prior storage solution, which had initially addressed this issue, became too costly to manage. Much of the Rosenstiel School's largest data files consist of satellite images from above and below the ocean's surface. The researchers then study these images and accumulate their findings onto the storage. ONStor's NAS gateway presents the data under a consolidated interface for simplified storage access and management.

The solution also allows the school to replicate information between data centers, creating redundancy in the event of disaster.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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