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Friday, 29 June 2012 17:14

Australia builds 100 petabyte storage cloud


The first five nodes of the $50 million Research Data Storage Infrastructure (RDSI) project have been announced. The storage network is intended to transform the way in which research data collections are stored and accessed in Australia.

Four primary nodes have been announced – one to be established by Intersect in Sydney, a Brisbane node at the Queensland Cyber infrastructure Foundation, the ANU will establish a node in Canberra and eResearch SA will set up a node in Adelaide. An additional node will be established by the University of Tasmania.

These are the first of eight to ten nodes intended to underpin the national storage network, which by 2014 will offer Australian researchers access to around 100 petabytes of data collections. There have however already been suggestions that up to 500 petabytes capacity might be needed as data collections continue to grow rapidly.

RDSI along with the National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources (NeCTAR) research cloud are two main pillars of the Government’s Super Science initiative which is being financed through the Education Investment Fund.

The RDSI programme is being led by the University of Queensland. According to Professor Max Lu, UQ’s Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the potential of researchers being able to easily access this scale of big data is that it could transform research in many areas including astronomy, genomics, physics and environmental studies.

“The recent announcement of Australia’s involvement in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is an example of this rapidly growing area. SKA’s dishes will produce data each day equal to about 10 times the current global internet traffic,” he said.

The RDSI programme is being led by Nick Tate, a former director of IT Services at the University of Queensland, and now president of the Australian Computer Society. Nodes in the RDSI will be connected by AARNet but using a separate wavelength to other data traffic on the network to avoid the transmission of large data collections “flooding” the AARNet backbone.

RDSI has already established a vendor panel which can supply equipment to the nodes. Dr Tate said that to improve its leverage RDSI had worked together with the Council of Australian University Directors of IT (Caudit) in issuing the request for proposal and that 14 vendors had been accepted onto the panel: ASI Solutions; Cisco through Dimension Data and Frame Group; Data Direct Networks; Dell; EMC Australia; Frontline; Hitachi Data Systems; Intersect; NetApp; Safewell; SGI; and, XOStor.

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