The Dternity NAS Helps the Fighting Irish Build a Better Archive

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The University of Notre Dame, based in South Bend, Indiana is a world class university with students that represent all 50 states and over 100 countries. Rigorous academics, NCAA Division I athletics, and numerous events and activities create an environment in which students are ignited with a passion to learn and to live to their fullest capacity.

Consistently ranked in the Top 25 institutions of higher learning by US News & World Report, Notre Dame has over 10,000 students, 4 colleges, 67 undergraduate programs, more than 50 graduate programs, and is home to the famous Fighting Irish Football team that draws fans from all around the world.

The Challenge

“The mission of the Office of IT is to serve as the trusted IT partner to all the Faculty, Staff and Students” says Mike Anderson, Storage Engineer at the University of Notre Dame. “It can be very difficult to satisfy their increasing demands for storage”. Historically IT was responsible for providing enterprise class storage for students, faculty and staff. This was primarily for user accounts, database and email. Large file storage was discouraged and requests for such storage were often denied. “Sometimes we would get requests from a department to store 100 TB or more” says Mike Anderson. “We simply did not have a solution that could accommodate a large archive at that point”.

“We needed an affordable storage solution that could scale to beyond a petabyte and provide data protection to all archived content”
– Mike Anderson, Storage Engineer at the University of Notre Dame

By 2014 it was clear to IT that something had to change. Requests for large file storage was growing and so was the need to archive them. Primary sources of this big data were the Athletics Department that was using more and more cameras to film all their games. Another source was the ever growing University Archives that was making an official effort to digitize and preserve historical data for future use. “We needed an affordable storage solution that could scale to beyond a petabyte and provide data protection to all archived content” said Mike Anderson.

The Solution

“After evaluating many solutions we decided to go with the Dternity NAS and Media Cloud replication service”. The solution is built to fit into existing environments and deliver the simplicity of networks shares along with the superior economics of tape. Notre Dame’s IT department was able to re-purpose their existing tape library as a scale-out NAS using the Dternity appliance.

The athletics department and the university archives could all be given their own CIFS shares that plugged right into their workflows. The easy scalability quickly meets the ever-growing demand for capacity. Data recovery is automatically provided through replication to the Dternity Media Cloud. The Media Cloud is an offsite storage service that store two additional copies of Notre Dame’s content, giving them a total of 3 copies across two geographic locations.

As a starting configuration, Notre Dame built an archive designed to hold at least 750 TB using the Dternity NAS paired with a Spectra Logic LTO-6 library with replication to the Dternity Media Cloud service for added offsite protection.

The Benefits

To date, the IT team has seen an overall decrease in administrative time associated with backing up and archiving research data. Dternity simplifies data protection and disaster recovery by managing multiple file copies without requiring an additional backup application. There has been immediate cost savings already, and as the amount of data in the Dternity grows, the cost savings grows with it. It is significantly cheaper to keep archive data on tape as opposed to disk. Not to mention the security benefits now that less of the information that is supposed to be in the archive is being stored by users on flash drives and other user solutions. “Capacity and scalability were obviously very important to us, but Dternity provided so much more”, said Anderson. “Our customers are happy that their data is automatically copied offsite, and I never have to worry because our archive is fully protected for decades to come”. “The best thing though is how easily automated Dternity is and that our team for the most part never has to touch tape”.


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