Finding solutions for long-term research data storage needs

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Mar 8, 2023) — 

Case Western Reserve University is one of the most research-intensive higher education institutions in the state of Ohio. Ranked R1 by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, during fiscal year 2021 it attracted more than $390 million in competitive sponsored research projects.

With such high research activity, Case Western Reserve needs to manage and store a large amount of data. Researchers often must meet requirements set by their funding agencies, academic publishers and home institution to retain study data for several years, in case that data needs to be audited or reproduced.

OSC tape storage
OSC's automated tape library system performs daily backups to store massive amounts of information in a durable, accessible format for long-term reliability.

Case Western Reserve had been storing archival research data in a tape-based system hosted by the institution, but recently began exploring alternative options that would shift the maintenance and administration to an outside service, said Mike Warfe, director of research computing. After evaluating several national information technology vendors, Case Western Reserve chose to work with the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC).

“We decided to use OSC primarily because of network capacity—we’re both on the 100 Gigabits per second (Gbps) OARnet network,” Warfe said. “Not having to worry about network bandwidth or any hidden fees made the storage option at OSC very attractive to us.”

Another draw was Case Western Reserve’s ability to use OSC’s Globus Connect subscription to transfer its data across networks at very high speeds, Warfe said. Once OSC created a Globus resource for the university to use, Case Western Reserve could administer it directly and autonomously.

Warfe also cited the affordable cost of using OSC as a benefit to Case Western Reserve and its researchers. With reasonable fees and adequate data storage capacity, OSC is an attractive alternative to other options on the market that recently have become more expensive or more limited in capacity, he said.

“It’s a service that the campus community values, and it helps researchers with some of the challenges they have with data management,” Warfe said.

Case Western Reserve began its data transfer to OSC in late 2021 and recently completed the project. The institution has stored over 400 Terabytes of data so far and plans to store a Petabyte of data within the coming years, Warfe said.

Although the data archive partnership is new, the two institutions have collaborated previously. Warfe and his colleagues also are actively involved with OSC through their participation in the Statewide User Group (SUG) and other working committees. Case Western Reserve and OSC mutually benefit from this engagement, as Warfe can inform OSC about the latest needs of his university’s researchers while also learning about the newest OSC resources and services that may benefit his institution.


By Andrea Gibson

About OSC: The Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) addresses the rising computational demands of academic and industrial research communities by providing a robust shared infrastructure and proven expertise in advanced modeling, simulation and analysis. OSC empowers scientists with the services essential to making extraordinary discoveries and innovations, partners with businesses and industry to leverage computational science as a competitive force in the global knowledge economy and leads efforts to equip the workforce with the key technology skills required for 21st century jobs.