April 25, 2011

Australian Research Network Delivers Storage as a Service

Nicole Hemsoth

One of the largest providers of Internet-based services for Australian researchers and academic institutions, the Australian Academic Research Network (AARNet), has announced the availability of a new storage-as-a-service offering following a year-long beta phase.

AARNet provides a range of Internet-based services for a large number of Australian academic and research institutions. The group counts over one million end users who are making use of their services. As one might imagine, finding ways to move and store terabytes of information for so many users is a challenge, but AARnet hopes its solution to the big data problems of its member institutions will alleviate some of these data burdens.

The organization’s new project, called CloudStor, was announced this morning via a report from ComputerWorld Australia. The author describes it as a “rapid-share-like service, [which was] borne out of a collaboration project with AARNet’s equivalents in Ireland and Norway…[It was] initially limited to file uploads of 55 gigbytes each, but has since moved to limitations of more than 100 gigabytes for 100 recipients per file, at a time limit of 20 days.”

According to James Hutchinson, researchers at AARNet took a great deal of time to consider how much space would be required to operate the service, which started with four terabytes and was eventually bumped to six. Over the course of the last year’s beta testing CloudStor provided storage for around 4500 files and about 1.5 terabytes of data from over 700 end users.

Hutchinson also reports that the platform has already been moved over to its RETAIN mirror and connected to a SAN that is scalable up to 80 terabytes, which will allow some elbow room for dealing with growth of the service. In addition to this wiggle room in the structure of the platform, AARNet has also added an overflow capability to spill into Amazon’s S3 cloud storage service. The problem with this, however, is that there are high bandwidth costs for data movement between Australian research institutions via AWS’s closest data center, which is in Singapore.

The non-profit company behind AARNet (same name that runs the network) also serves as an advocacy group to work toward better communications infrastructure. It will be providing the services to those who are existing members of the AARNet network.

Full story at ComputerWorld Australia

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