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University of Leeds Leverages Deep Storage

November 9, 2016

The School of Earth and Environment at The University of Leeds has selected a Spectra T950 Tape Library and Spectra Verde Disk Solution to meet its rapidly increasing IT storage requirements.

The university, which conducts vital research across a number of earth science disciplines, previously relied solely on disk drive technology for its long-term storage needs. However, the sheer volume of data it was producing was expanding rapidly, making its full retention an enduring challenge. With the life of a typical disk drive running at approximately three years, and an increasingly stringent requirement from grant-funding bodies for data be kept between 10-20 years, it was important that Leeds find a more durable, cost-effective solution. The school also required increased storage capacity to house its own data, and accommodate the needs of other departments, who were lacking adequate space.

The University of Leeds selected a Spectra T950 tape library, coupled with a Spectra Verde NAS disk system, to meet the organization’s backup and archiving needs. The T950 far exceeds the storage capabilities of Leeds’ previous disk–based storage solution, enabling efficient, long-term storage of incredibly large research data sets in a variety of formats, at a fraction of the cost. The Verde NAS serves as an affordable secondary file storage system, and sends a copy of the data to the T950, before it is safely removed and stored on a shelf outside of the library. Spectra’s solution has allowed more complex and thorough scientific analyses to be performed, enabling the facility’s storage capability to grow and scale in accordance with its needs.

Professor Alan Haywood, director of research and innovation, School of Earth and Environment, recalls, “Before the deployment of the Spectra T950 we had to continually monitor our disk space and decide what data to delete in order to free up capacity for the latest research files. But it is difficult to judge the value of old data as you do not always know what its re-use value may be in the future. Now we can increase the amount of storage capacity infinitely to our requirements, meaning we will never run out of space to store valuable data.”

“Environmental scientific modelling processes currently produce terabytes of data annually around the world,” said Steve Conway, research vice president, High Performance Computing, IDC. “The next generation of models will deal with even higher resolutions, and produce significantly greater volumes of data, which must be stored for more complex scientific analyses to be performed. The value of the data in this field is also incredibly high as new techniques can be applied to existing data, to gain fresh insight from the results for future use.”

Professor Haywood and his team have observed that the new Spectra T950 tape library has already resulted in substantial cost savings, as researchers can now migrate older data to tape thus freeing up disk space and eliminating additional disk purchases. The library has also freed up the limited server storage, and improved disk system performance, which was previously over-burdened with research data.

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