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How A*STAR is enhancing the research ecosystem in Singapore: Storage on Demand

This is part of a continuing series on how the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is constantly working to support researchers in Singapore and enhance the research ecosystem.

Click here to read the first instalment on the Federated Identity Management System or FIMs, here for the second part on the electronic Chemicals, Biomaterials, Gases Management System and here for the third part on the RIE2020 portal and Future InfoComm System Team applications.

Storage on Demand (SOD) is a centralised, on-demand utility-based private cloud data storage and archival solution which eliminates the need for several outright capital purchases and improves staff productivity.

Benefits

Less time is spent procuring storage through multiple tenders as storage is now readily available on-demand. Besides, it eliminates the upfront purchase of buffer storage to cater for ad hoc requests.

The standby buffer storage of the system is activated when the primary storage has reached the preset threshold level. Using this system, users can just “turn on” for their additional storage requirement, without the need to go through a lengthy procurement process. By quickly obtaining the buffer storage, procurement has been significantly reduced from 3 months to 5 hours.

The buffer storage is “free” and A*STAR does not need to pay for them upfront. This represents new economics for storage. Through this innovation, A*STAR has achieved tangible costs savings of $500,000 annually.

From a corporate perspective, institutional data is centralised and retained in a corporate repository.

SOD is a scalable solution since there is no longer any need to change hardware and migrate data every three to four years. This avoids substantial costs due to technology obsolescence.

Furthermore, the utility nature of the Advanced data copying and analytics system project is an improvement over the traditional storage method and it also provides a more transparent way for users to know about their storage consumption pattern. Detailed utilisation and accounting reports capture the storage utilisation costs by user. This enables us to accurately manage storage in a most cost-efficient and cost-effective manner. There is now greater accountability for the use of storage as users pay per use.

Since SOD is connected with ExaNet [1], a high-performance network that segregates research traffic from corporate traffic, it provides a high bandwidth and low latency connection of up to 10Gb/s to users (almost 70 to 100 times faster) to access the data for their research or project works.  With the help of ExaNet high bandwidth connectivity, user will be able to access or transfer the data to the designated locations, within a shorter period time.

Further SOD has been connected with several A*STAR legacy and business. This integration makes it easy for users to access the data quickly in and around Singapore.

Utilisation

SOD has been extensively used in several research institutes (supercomputing, modeling and high performance computing, drug associated clinical trials, genomic and science associated research, molecular biology, aerodynamics and automobile industry projects, automatic data backup of business critical systems, exchange of large files such as research data sets, image files and video feeds,  etc).

This low-cost (compared to traditional systems) data storage utilisation model in Asia helps in promoting research and collaboration in Singapore and Global Higher learning institutions.

As explained above, this also allows researchers to be more efficient (fast access to data with reliability, scalability and security) by spending less time waiting for the storage and hence improving the overall productivity.

By providing faster, more efficient access to databases in Singapore and around the world, the innovation helps Singapore to attract more research talent leading to greater research outcomes in Singapore.

Recently initiatives have been taken to establish collaboration and actively promote this low-cost utility storage model for other Government agencies and private sector, and currently the work is in progress. 

[1] ExaNet provides a dedicated super-highway for researchers to collaborate both within A*STAR and with external partners such as Nanyang Technological University (NTU), National University of Singapore (NUS), SingAREN, the National Supercomputing Centre (NSCC) and overseas research institutions. 

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