Data Archives

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 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.

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 is continuing the project through 2022. The institution plans to store over 1 Petabyte of data, 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 Users 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.