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Duke Upgrades Storage for Big Data Management

Duke Research Computing at Duke University has expanded its data storage to two petabytes to support the big data management needs of its researchers.

The university is home to the Duke Lemur Center, which has the largest population of lemurs in the world outside of Madagascar, where they originate. Evolutionary biologists at the center require significant quantities of storage for genomic research to help save this endangered animal. According to information from the university, "a genome for one lemur contains about three billion pairs of DNA," representing about 700 megabytes of data. To conduct their research, the biologists require many DNA sets, resulting in huge volumes of data, and analyzing it generates even more data.

"For evolutionary biology, the amount of DNA sequence data is growing exponentially," said Peter Larsen, evolutionary biologist at the Duke Lemur Center, in a prepared statement. "All of this is a wealth of information that needs to be stored and protected."

Furthermore, to receive grants from funding organizations such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, researchers must demonstrate that they have sufficient data management capabilities.

To provide researchers with sufficient data management capacity to do their work and receive grants, Duke Research Computing, which is part of the university's Office of Information Technology (OIT), recently added 500 more terabytes of data storage, bringing the total amount of storage dedicated to research uses up to two petabytes.

Researchers at the Duke Lemur Center are also taking advantage of the "compute cluster" at Duke Research Computing. Combining the power of the computing cluster with the expanded data storage helps the evolutionary biologists at the Lemur Center "analyze genomic information to help identify pathogens and to better understand disease in lemurs, the world's most critically endangered primates," according to information from the university.

Some of Larsen's lemur research has been featured on the National Geographic Channel.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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