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University of Cambridge backs-up the back-up with offsite storage facility

The University of Cambridge has implemented a secure offsite storage facility that allows two schools and various departments to store replicated data in a way that maintains confidence amongst researchers.

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OCF has provided the high performance storage system to the institution in the form of a 400TB system that uses DataDirect Networks [DDN] storage and IBM’s GPFS file system for data management.

“Right now, we’ve filled around 10 percent of the storage capacity and its sized to cope with a five-year lifespan. From an IT management perspective, the system has given us confidence in the security of our data, but also compliance with the grant awarding process of UK Research Councils,” said Bob Dowling, Head of Unix Systems Division at University of Cambridge Computing Service.

Funding for the storage system was a combined effort between the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and the School of Arts and Humanities at the University and it means that 20 departments within both schools can benefit.

It will be managed by the University Information Services and extracts data from faculty level backup systems at a rate set by the technical staff for each school. This can either be twice each day, nightly or on a rotational basis and in some departments it is second or even third level protection. Further protection comes from the fact that data is stored and replicated at two different sites that are a mile away from each other.

“It is operating as a ‘backup for our backups’ – second or third level protection. From a disaster recovery point of view, I can select key data from a department level backup and put into our new primary level storage,” added Andrew Gerrard, computer officer for the faculty of law, School of the Humanities and Social Sciences.