CASE STUDY: AWE – Atomic Weapons Establishment

AWE

For almost 70 years, AWE has supported the UK government’s nuclear defense strategy and the “Continuous At Sea Deterrent.” The UK Ministry of Defence has responsibility for the program at AWE, which is operated under contract by AWE Management Limited. AWE uses their nuclear know-how and technical expertise to provide innovative solutions that support the UK’s counter-terrorism and nuclear threat reduction activities.

High performance computing is a critical underpinning technology in the vast majority of our science-based program. These new Spectra Logic tape libraries provide more storage capacity in less space than our previous libraries.

— Paul Tomlinson, High Performance Computing, AWE

The Challenge

AWE has some of the largest computers in the world. AWE’s next generation supercomputer is capable of performing over 7.4 thousand trillion calculations per second. The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty prohibits emission of nuclear yield, so AWE relies on a science-based and computational program to assess the safety, security and effectiveness of the stockpile. Much of the work that has been completed at AWE has gone on to have wide ranging applications from supporting counter terrorism activities to innovations in sectors like healthcare and transport. The data they have is irreplaceable and must be kept indefinitely.

The majority of their systems were backed up to two Oracle® SL8500 tape libraries. Due to Oracle downsizing their tape portfolio, AWE decided to review market options to determine the best replacement solution to support their infrastructure into the future. They were looking for a scalable solution that could accommodate their Oracle® T10000x tape drives and media for migration purposes and easily integrate LTO-9 tape technology once available. The new tape systems also had to be compatible with selected software solutions including IBM® Spectrum Protect, Oracle HSM products and Veritas NetBackup.

The Solution

AWE deployed two Spectra® TFinity® ExaScale Tape Libraries with LTO-8 tape drives and media. With two libraries in place, AWE implements a comprehensive disaster recovery plan that improves data availability in case of failure with full data redundancy. The libraries are fully compatible with their existing choice of software solutions. In addition to LTO tape technology, the Spectra TFinity Exascale is also compatible with IBM® TS11XX enterprise tape technology and Oracle® T10000x enterprise tape technology, enabling all three tape technologies to be housed in the same library. This tri-media compatibility allows AWE to continue to leverage their investment in Oracle® T10000x tape drives and media by moving them into the new Spectra infrastructure. Once in the TFinity tape library, the data in that media will be migrated to LTO technology. The TFinity also allows AWE to move away from Fibre Channel with Spectra Swarm, which adds Ethernet connectivity to Spectra tape libraries. Spectra Swarm enables Spectra tape libraries to utilize a backbone Ethernet or iSCSI connection, leveraging all of the same infrastructure and networking capabilities as the rest of the equipment in a modern data center.

Finally, Spectra’s LTO media pre-purchase program provided AWE with the ability to upgrade their LTO-8 tape drives and media to the next LTO generation when it becomes available, with no additional purchase required.


Environment Snapshot

  • 6-frame Spectra TFinity ExaScale Tape Library
  • 7-frame Spectra TFinity ExaScale Tape Library with LTO-8 and Oracle® T10000x tape drives
  • BlueScale® Software with standard encryption

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AWE Customer Testimonial Video

Watch this video to hear how AWE deployed Spectra solutions to help AWE support the UK’s
counter-terrorism and nuclear threat reduction activities.

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