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The United States has more than 250 university-level research facilities — schools that dedicate large portions of their mission, resources and focus to research and education. These facilities house cutting-edge, data-intensive work on a daily basis, generating massive amounts of structured and unstructured data that needs to be stored, shared and transported. And that data has huge value — not just to a school’s students and faculty, but also to the world at large, in every industry from medicine to public policy to sociology.
Users need their data to be highly available, secure and protected. Researchers may, for example, want to use analytics and machine learning to uncover new applications and breakthroughs, but they can’t do it alone. Responsibility for data management and security falls directly on the IT department.
As Educause explains, “The IT organization can help the institution develop a sustainable approach to technology investments and also use technology to reduce or contain costs… As the value of data increases, information security risks and privacy concerns multiply. A sustainable strategy to secure data and protect privacy is essential.”
Many of these higher education organizations are turning to solid state drives (SSDs) as a way to solve storage issues while reducing total cost of ownership (TCO). SSDs have many benefits over traditional spinning disk hard drives. Depending on the connector option you choose, SSDs can provide either high capacity or high transfer speeds. In some cases, both are possible, as high density NVMe SSDs become viable options.
SSD as a backup vehicle
IT teams have traditionally stored data backups and archives on tape — which can take hours or even days, depending on the size of a database. Then IT has to send tapes off-site, where they’re stored based on retention policies. But with university research, policies tend to require long storage periods, which means tapes pile up.
Unfortunately, the older a tape is, the more chance it will fail. It can also be difficult to retrieve a tape and find the data you’re looking for. Some users have switched to cloud-based backups, but this requires lots of bandwidth, and it can take a long time to restore from the cloud.
How over-provisioning SSDs impacts performance
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SSDs change everything. Writing to an SSD is fast — exponentially faster than writing to tape or a cloud resource. Restoring from an SSD is fast, too.
Powering private and hybrid cloud solutions
In any cloud service provider’s data center, chances are you’ll see hundreds of racks of SSDs, which provide more input/output operations per second (IOPs) than traditional hard drives — and better responsiveness. SSDs can integrate with most existing systems, servers and SSD stacks.
Universities are catching onto the trend. SSDs can help research institutions build their own cloud offerings, making it easier for users to request new virtual servers at any time — and helping them keep up with the demand for storage space. Where data center SSDs like the 860 DCT can make an impact in this space is the ability for top capacities and read speeds when all that information is being stored.
SSD as portable storage
Students have always been a mobile cohort, but even more so today, when education happens remotely one day and in-person the next. Deploying portable SSDs lets students and faculty take their research with them by simply unplugging a connector, so they can have it on them whenever they go. And because SSDs have no moving parts, they’re more reliable and less likely to break if jostled or dropped.