U of Montreal installs storage app to handle 8TB load

The University of Montreal’s high-performance computing lab is about to let its researchers know about a software implementation designed to better protect the storage of scientific data.

The Réseau québécois de calcul

de haute performance (RQCHP) Tuesday said it is using Time Navigator from Palo Alto, Calif.-based Atempo to help back up and retrieve data housed on the university’s Fibre Channel-based 8TB storage area network. Time Navigator will protect Linux, Irix, AIX and Solaris is storing to an on-site Linear Tape Open (LTO) system.

RQCHP has had the software in production for about a month, according to executive director Ghyslain Boisvert, but in the next few weeks the organization plans to spread the word among employees who may be storing data related to data mining algorithms, high-energy physics or other projects.

The need for storage software emerged almost four years ago, when the RQCHP received a grant for $740,000 from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. With more funding for its research, Boisvert said the amount of data leapt from 1TB to 8TB, with initial backups done on the University’s system.

With the need for more capacity, Boisvert said the RQCHP decided to address a significant barrier in its storage strategy. The centre needed something that would support Silicon Graphic Inc.’s Data Migration Facility (DMF), because researchers typically archive files on tape that don’t need to be accessed very often. Though there are policies around what is put on tape, Boisvert said until Atempo’s product was put in place, there was an entire partition of data that was never backed up.

“”A lot of the users are not necessarily really aware of all the policies,”” he said. “”Sometimes they’re moving files there which are really important to them but they don’t fit with the policies and they’re not migrated for some reason — they’re too small, or something like that.””

Atempo senior architect Gerry Graczyk said Time Navigator’s advantage is that it virtualizes the disk to look like tape, so that the files can be managed as though they are on cartridges.

“”Everything that you do within the software to manage tape — the recycling, and moving it in and out of the library — all that type of functionality or look and feel is handled the same way with the disk,”” he said.

Although Time Navigator will provide better protection to the data, Boisvert said educating researchers on storage policies remains challenging.

“”A lot of people read through these things without paying attention to the details,”” he said. “”It’s very difficult to have them use the system as you expected them to use it.””

Atempo acting chief marketing officer Michael Harris said vendors can bring some important expertise to help customers tackle storage management issues.

“”I think the ability to assess access, usage and capacity will be key differentiators,”” he said, “”So will the ability to (help) stage your data. It’s all about moving data around according to its business value at any point in time.””

Other Atempo customers include Cap Gemini, Airbus and France Telecom.

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