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For MSPs Serving Data-Intensive Scientific Research Clients, Here Are Four Considerations When Evaluating File Data Platforms

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Only a few research organizations can afford their very own supercomputer and advanced storage systems. Many turn to specialized Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to offer remote computing and storage capacity to data-intensive research clients.

The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) is a leading MSP for the national scientific community in government, academia, and business. The Center is a member of XSEDE (eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment), a single virtual system that enables researchers to interactively share computing resources, data collections, and advanced research tools.

When evaluating a file data platform to manage massive computing and data storage resources for your clients, MSPs should consider the following:

Can your IT infrastructure support high-performance and high-capacity storage for massive amounts of big data?

SDSC faced a challenge regarding its storage infrastructure. The Center had a set of new clients who needed over 1 PB in storage capacity, and the IT team was concerned about the performance, reliability, and management of its existing storage solutions at that scale.

“Our storage requirements for (client) data projects are growing from tens of terabytes to hundreds of terabytes,” said Amit Majumdar, Ph.D., Director of Data Enabled Scientific Computing at SDSC. “Large data transfer and storage, high-speed access, sharing, search functionalities — all of these are becoming more and more important for our projects.”

Qumulo scales unstructured data more efficiently than parallel filesystems, making it ideal for environments with massive file counts, directory structures, and billions of small files. The file system supports fast ingest and access and is highly searchable. High availability and minimal rebuild times keep data safe and always available – with no data loss.

Are your resources being spent on maintaining your legacy file system, or on growing your business?

Brian Balderston, SDSC’s Director of Infrastructure, wanted a better storage system for their clients that “didn’t need quite as much operational care and feeding.”

Built in, real-time analytics within the Qumulo file data platform show users what’s happening with your data, providing real-time insight into your system, without performance degradation or long file system scans.

This allows IT teams to free up their valuable time from mundane administrative tasks with visibility into crucial information such as:

  • IOPS and throughput hotspots
  • Capacity trending
  • User activity
  • Auditing
  • Bill back reporting
  • Data usage

“Instead of focusing our staff and resources on managing a number of inefficient storage systems, we use our engineering time to work on highly impactful and well-funded grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health, and other funding agencies. That is a big win for all of us.”

Does Your Organization Have a Path to the Cloud?

SDSC is moving towards integrating on-prem and cloud storage to serve its science gateways. “It’s important for us to make leading cloud technologies available via our Research Data Services division,” said Majumdar.

Since Qumulo’s file storage is cloud-native, it seamlessly supports on-prem and cloud integration. Qumulo’s software license is fully transferable between on-prem and cloud-based platforms so that your investment in Qumulo’s software is usable no matter how your storage strategies evolve in the future.

The biggest metric for MSP success? Customer adoption.

“Probably my biggest achievement is standing this storage system up and then getting massive adoption,” Balderston said.

“Since the initial proof-of-concept, SDSC has reached a new set of customers, including more than two dozen University of California research labs and departments. I can’t think of any other service that has been adopted this quickly.”

Learn More

Read more about SDSC’s work with Qumulo in the case study here.

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