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Research IT Computing and Storage Solutions

Computation, and data storage was identified as an area that needs immediate attention for development of a sustainable solution. Researchers acquire source data, derives subsets of those data, manipulate and share data. All research data needs a safe, secure, reliable, affordable, and accessible location to reside.

A faculty and staff focus group, with vested interest in storage IT, has been assembled to evaluate the need, assess the current state of, determine the potential economies of scale, and make recommendations on research data storage, backup, and movement across key locations on campus through high-throughput research networks.

Current Campus Offerings

Current storage options available to the campus are:

The quickest and easiest to access for low-level storage needs, while also satisfying criteria for sensitive data, is Vanderbilt Box.  Vanderbilt Box is free for Vanderbilt users, and allows up to 100GB of storage with more available upon request.  Vanderbilt Box also offers the ability for researchers to collaborate and create shared folders and projects, while also giving them the ability to share with external collaborators.

The Advanced Computing Center for Research and Education (ACCRE) is also available to the campus community for a fee. ACCRE is meant to bring high level, secure storage to the campus community with several pricing options.  The cost is $150/TB/yr for storage with no backup, and $204/TB/yr with nightly backup.  ACCRE storage is accessed only through the cluster.  Support for mounting to local machines is generally not recommended.  ACCRE is generally not recommended for sharing of small to medium sized data sets with external collaborators and is not set up to be secure for FERPA, HIPAA, or ePHI data.

Distributed Online Research Storage (DORS) can also provide higher-levels of storage to researchers on campus for a fee.  For example, DORS is available for $204/TB/yr and is backed up nightly.  DORS is also available for both desktop access as well as ACCRE cluster access.  This is good for researchers that need centralized storage with high-speed campus-wide accessibility to and from ACCRE.  DORS is generally not recommended for sharing of small to medium sized data sets with external collaborators and is not set up to be secure for FERPA, HIPAA, or ePHI data.

VUIT Offerings

VUIT has an enterprise account with Amazon Web Services.  Using the enterprise account provided by VUIT has many advantages: secure access between ACCRE, DORS, and AWS, automated tools at watch services to prevent account overages, start/stop management of processes in order to save time/money, enterprise level support model with Amazon, and consultative support with VUIT.

Database hosting for MySQL is available through VUIT, but there are also cloud hosted database options available at varying costs through multiple providers (IBM, Microsoft Azure, Oracle, AWS).  There are many cloud computing options with a wide array of services available commercially from services such as AWSMicrosoft AzureOracle, or IBM, to name a few.  These companies offer software, platforms, and infra-structure as a service.  These solutions allow for customization to research projects at a reasonable cost.

VUIT offers two product offerings to meet disk storage needs. One is a Storage Area Network (SAN). The SAN solution attaches to a computer or server and appears as a locally attached network drive. SAN is typically used for high performance database systems.

Our other product offering is Network Attached Storage (NAS). The NAS solution connects directly to the network to provide centralized storage. The NAS solution is typically used for file serving without a file server.

For more information about SAN and NAS, see the Product Description in Quick Links. A department representative can complete an order in the VUIT product and services catalog in eProcurement.

To learn more about the VUIT Co-location Service, contact your Customer Relationship Manager.

ACCRE Storage

The Vanderbilt Advanced Computing Center for Research and Education offers several High-Performance Computation and Storage solutions that covers many of the Research IT needs on campus.

Cold Archive:

  • Cost: 1-time cost covering storage for 10 years.  Any access incurs additional fees
  • Target:  Satisfy data retention polices for no longer needed data
  • Accessibility: Anywhere, including both on and off campus and ACCRE.
  • Platforms: Any device with a Web browser or a Windows, Mac, or Linux computer for command line tools.
  • Authourization: VUnetID
  • Details: The data is stored on tape and the tapes removed from the library.  It is assumed the data will only be accessed in case of an emergency.  If so the tapes will be loaded back into the library and data restored at an additional fee.  The price is for data retention of 10 years only. Users can access the data using a web browser, command line tools, or high level library for those that want a tighter workflow integration.

Hot Archive:

  • Cost: Monthly cost based on data stored.  No additional access fees.
  • Target: Cheap bulk storage where immediate access isn’t required.
  • Accessibility: Anywhere, including both on and off campus and ACCRE.
  • Platforms: Any device with a Web browser or a Windows, Mac, or Linux computer for command line tools.
  • Authorization: VUnetID
  • Details: The data is stored on tape and that users can actively store and retrieve data using a web browser, command line tools, or high level library for those wanting a tighter workflow integration.  No additional costs to retrieve data although there will be a delay based on usage.  We expect 24 hour turn around on all requests with most cases significantly less.

Tape Backup:

  • Cost: Monthly fee based on data stored.
  • Target:  Backup of local storage
  • Accessibility: Campus only
  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, or Linux server

General Parallel File System (GPFS):

  • Cost: Monthly cost based on data stored. No additional fees.
  • Target: High performance storage for small files accessible from the ACCRE cluster. Light usage available outside ACCRE is a available.
  • Accessibility: ACCRE cluster with light usage available elsewhere via SAMBA.
  • Platform: Linux

Future Solutions

The Research IT Working Group is working to outline Cloud-to-ACCRE customized computing and storage solutions.  Services will be drafted based on these recommendations. Research input is highly sought after.  Please comment on such service here.  There are currently two new storage services under development by ACCRE, LStore (cheaper bulk storage solutions) and AuriStor (distributed shared storage).