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Columbia University turns to EMC to support bio research

Veronica C. Silva | Sept. 1, 2011
Researchers need powerful storage solutions for volume data processing.

With computer systems being used extensively in advanced researches, New York's Columbia University needed a powerful storage solution that could help them process volumes of data. The university's Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics (C2B2) found the answer in the network-attached storage (NAS) offerings of EMC, particularly the Isilon range of solutions.

The Columbia University research unit conducts breakthrough researches that combine biology with the computational and physical sciences. It conducts researches on computational biophysics and structural biology, to name a few, and maintains several databases, such as genomic databases. Such examples of researches require storage solutions that can process volumes of data without breaking the bank.

For these requirements, EMC offered its Isilon X-Series and NL-Series Platform Nodes combined with the EMC Isilon SmartPools and SmartQuotas software applications. With these solutions, EMC said C2B2 has "dramatically increased system performance and flexibility, streamlining researchers' access to data while reducing operational expenses and big data management complexities."


"We were using a traditional NAS system that struggled to support the huge amounts of input/output demands on the 400 CPUs in our computing infrastructure," said John Lowell Wofford, director of IT services, Columbia University's C2B2.

"We knew that we'd soon outgrow that number by at least 10 times. After switching to Isilon, we no longer had to worry that our system couldn't handle our research demands. We knew that we could independently scale capacity and performance, so that we buy only what we need, when we need it."

C2B2's storage infrastructure now supports some 4,000 CPUs, which can handle the heavy input/ouput and data analysis demands needed for its researches, and handles nearly one petabyte of data.

"We're processing big sets of genomic data, doing molecular biophysical simulations and sequence analysis, which can lead to new drug discoveries and advances in basic science," said Wofford.

Wofford added that the EMC Isilon OneFS operating system makes storage management easy such that there is no need for a dedicated storage administrator. 

The EMC Isilon system also supports other research units in Columbia University, such as the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Institute for Cancer Genomics, and the J.P. Sulzberger Columbia Genome Center.


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