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

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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