Scaling Storage in Multi-Use Supercomputing Research Environments: ACCRE at Vanderbilt

Supercomputing research environments in universities must often accommodate different user needs, navigating the storage requirements of not only departments and researchers across campus, but also meeting the standards of external partners and industry collaborators.

This is certainly the case for the Advanced Computing Center for Research and Education (ACCRE) at Vanderbilt University, the foremost resource for the high-performance computing requirements of the various research teams and grant projects across the Vanderbilt community. Over 50 departments and more than 850 researchers turn to ACCRE for a multitude of services, from utilizing their Big Data cluster, to leveraging their large high-bandwidth distributed storage network, to employing their tape backup services.

“Researchers at Vanderbilt are generating massive amounts of invaluable data, both within the university and through external partnerships, that must be stored and protected forever,” said Brian Grainger, chief sales officer, Spectra Logic.

The ACCRE cluster, housing over 10,000 computational cores and 10 PB of disk storage, was designed to accommodate different user needs while leaving room for expansion. To preserve the data of the many collaborators and researchers leveraging their archival storage, ACCRE needed to significantly increase storage capacity.

Why Spectra?

ACCRE deployed a Spectra® T950 Tape Library and Spectra® BlackPearl® Converged Storage System to store and archive research data. Due to expected growth estimated to reach 10PB by the end of 2018, and significantly higher by 2020, the center upgraded their previous tape system to a Spectra tape library, which offers unsurpassed storage density and minimal footprint through a unique and highly efficient design. The new tape library better accommodated their nightly backups and increasing need for data capacity while simultaneously meeting new security requirements instituted for Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) to protect grant research data.

The center also deployed a Spectra Black Pearl Converged Storage System, an object storage platform that eliminates the need for costly third-party data movers through its integration of Spectra S3 with a range of certified clients and simple file movers. The BlackPearl enabled direct end user access to archival storage and created a predictable and flattened cost model as they scale.

ACCRE’s case study is a truly interesting story of a university’s supercomputing center making all the right technical decisions to capitalize on their research computing infrastructure to optimize the community’s use of shared resources, expedite time to discovery, and maximize revenue generating opportunities.

Read more about ACCRE at Vanderbilt University and how Spectra Logic’s storage architecture helped them tackle massive data in an environment with differing user needs here.

Visit Spectra at SuperComputing 2018 in Dallas, TX, from Nov. 12-15, in Booth #2016.