The Medical Research Council's Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) is one of the UK's largest government funded science labs, and is dedicated to understanding important biological processes at the molecular level - with the goal of using this knowledge to tackle major problems in human health and disease. This well respected organization has laid the foundations of modern molecular biology, and among its researchers, who have 10 Nobel Prizes and dozens of Royal Society Awards to show for their efforts, include the discoverer of the structure of DNA, Francis Crick. As one of the most renowned research facilities in the world, the LMB is equipped with the best of modern technology. We spoke with Jake Grimmet, the head of scientific computing, about LMB's data storage requirements, and how 45 Drives' Storinator® massive storage pod has helped him meet these requirements.
As Head of Scientific Computing, Jake, and his deputy, run a 4000 core High Performance Computing cluster and 4 petabytes of data storage. Although they use "big name" storage servers where it makes sense to them (i.e. ultra high-density, or scale-out storage), they needed a simple, cost-effective bulk storage solution to store data from their electron microscopes, and other imaging data sources. Their usual solutions were too expensive, and much more complicated than they needed to be (they build their own solutions on bare servers, using ZFS on Linux). The big vendors were offering quality solutions, but charged too much, since they were adding things to these solutions that they didn't need.
Enter the Storinator. Their electron microscopes produce anywhere from 2 to 8TB per day. This data needs to be stored online for about 6 months, and replicated across two sites, while storing daily backups - hence the 4PB of total storage. This data is extremely valuable, and their five Storinators have allowed them to continue to do this with huge amounts of data, and perhaps most importantly, do it economically. The LMB aims to allocate resources in the most efficient way, and savings from going with the Storinators allowed more money to be spent on the lab bench doing additional experiments and buying necessary lab equipment.
Housed on a mix of 10Gb and 56Gb networks, their Storinators have anywhere between 5 and 20 users accessing the warm data at any given time. Says Jake, "for storing bulk data, these work extremely well for us." For them, no significant corners have been cut.
When you are at the cutting edge of your field, and your data's reliability could mean the cure for diseases, it is important to have a solution in place you know is going to work. For the LMB, that solution is the Storinator, their enterprise-grade, cost-effective storage server, that they can rely on to store some of their most valuable data, and provide an opportunity to win many more Nobel Prizes in the future.