OSC upgrades data storage and backup capacity

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Jan 4, 2022) — 
The tape library at OSC's Columbus data center.
The tape library at OSC's data center in Columbus is currently capable of storing up to 23.5 Petabytes (PB) with room for up to 141 PB worth of tape.

The Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) recently upgraded two services to allow clients to store more data at a faster rate and strengthen data backup.

“Both of these projects are examples of how OSC is continuing to expand capacity and performance for computing storage and networking so that we can be a useful resource for the researchers who use OSC and the problems they are trying to solve,” said Doug Johnson, OSC associate director.

The first project, completed in December 2021, upgraded the home directories hardware originally deployed in 2016. OSC worked with its current vendor, NetApp, to seamlessly update the service with minimal disruption for clients, Johnson said. The home directories have doubled the amount of data OSC can store and are now more than three times as fast as the old storage system.

The home directories are just one facet of OSC’s storage services, but they are critical for providing consistent and reliable storage for client scripts and small data sets, Johnson explained.

OSC’s second project, slated for completion in January 2022, is the development of a new disaster recovery location in Cleveland for data storage. This initiative will provide a physical twin of the Center’s Columbus tape library. “Every day when we back up data, we will replicate those changes at the Cleveland center,” Johnson said.

The Columbus tape library currently backs up nearly 3 billion files with an aggregate size of over 8 Petabytes (PB). The tape backup infrastructure is capable of redundantly storing up to 23.5 PB of data and is anticipated to be scalable to over 141 PB of capacity in the coming years.

OSC collaborated with the Ohio Technology Consortium’s Shared Infrastructure and OARnet divisions, leveraging an existing remote data center presence in northern Ohio and an increase in the network transport capacity (100 Gigabits per second) as part of this project. 

The Cleveland tape library has several benefits for clients, such as providing critical backup support for researchers whose work is funded by agencies that require long-term data storage.

“For us to be able to provide that service in a cost-effective way that integrates well with other OSC systems will be useful for our community,” Johnson said.

Both service upgrades are essential at a time when OSC is experiencing greater demand for its resources, said Brian Guilfoos, HPC client services manager.

“Changes accelerated by COVID resulted in significant growth in the numbers of classes leveraging OSC for instructional purposes,” Guilfoos said. “Our ‘virtual computer labs’ offer consistent environments to students, easily accessible from personal computing devices. As a result we are seeing many more users year-over-year, requiring growth in the infrastructure supporting these user accounts.”

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.