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How an ambitious vision and innovative company helped usher in the era of Cloud Storage

THE CHALLENGE: weave a fabric with thousands of terabytes spread across the globe

The Advanced Computing Center for Research & Education at Vanderbilt University had a dream – build an international network connecting 700 terabytes of high-speed storage that could be shared by thousands of collaborators across a wide variety of fields of study.

In 2006, ACCRE received a grant for the initial purchase of storage equipment that would be installed at a dozen participating institutions. The project was named the Research and Education Data Depot Network. “At the beginning, we faced significant challenges” explains Dr. Sheldon, head of ACCRE.

“REDDnet is the result of persistent effort and strong collaborators. But each of the participating institutions wanted to be free to use the hardware that would best fit their respective environments. This immediately created a vastly heterogenous environment.”

In this way, the REDDnet project set out to become a shared workspace for handling, sharing, and staging massive amounts of all kinds of data. It quickly became apparent that REDDnet needed more than hardware and committed collaborators.

THE SOLUTION: adopt the storage management and virtualization system developed by Nevoa Networks

Members of the REDDnet team met with Nevoa’s system architects in 2007 and laid out a strategy for distributed storage that accounted for the heterogeneity presented by the hardware at the participating institutions and assured uninterrupted, organic growth. Not only was the design a triumph in scalability, it easily fit within the project’s budget objectives.

The REDDnet team was introduced to the Nevoa Storage System and the advantages of logistical networking technologies. “Nevoa Networks is doing some amazing research and producing powerful technologies that are highly relevant to the way storage needs are evolving. They are breaking the traditional rules around storage design and delivering solid results.” according to Dr. Tackett, ACCRE’s technical director.

Once Nevoa Storage System was deployed, REDDnet now had a storage fabric that spanned continents and allowed easy access to the storage capacity presented by a wide variety of hardware platforms. While Nevoa claimed that its technology and architecture was a long-term solution, that can only be tested by time.

THE BENEFIT: high-performance and unlimited capacity

The REDDnet project started ten yeas ago with an initial deployment of 60 terabytes. It has since blown past its initial goal of 700 terabytes and now, in 2017, provides more than 6300 terabytes of storage capacity and routinely handles 60Gbps transfers over the WAN.

It is used to move massive datasets originating from CERN, preserve digital video recordings for the Library of Congress, and to share large geospatial and medical images. Adding new servers, which often include 36-drive JBODs, takes about 15 to 30 minutes and does not cause any system interruptions.

Even more significantly, the National Science Foundation formaly recognized Dr. Sheldon’s vision and the REDDnet project as a reference for successful scientific research infrastructure solutions.

Asked about his experience with the REDDnet project, Dr. Sheldon highlights “Managing to exceed all expectations with few resources and without compromising overall value are just a few of the priceless results Nevoa Networks can bring to storage projects.”

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