Enterprise Storage

SOD – Storage on Demand

A*STAR’s new Utility Storage service offers our A*STAR users a scalable and powerful platform that is tailored to the storage demands of our users, regardless of the unpredictability of data growth. The Utility Storage system allows file storage to be provisioned within few working days to fulfil our Whole of ASTAR (WOA), research institutes and collaboration needs. Users can also expect a shorter lead time for the provision of storage compared with the usual procurement process.

There are other benefits in using the Utility Storage system.RI’s engaging in research collaboration will be able to share data seamlessly. This is useful for exchange of large files such as research data sets, image files and video feeds. Other benefits include:
  • Quick provisioning and de-provisioning of additional storage capacity. Storage platforms and capacity are easily scalable.
  • Automatic backup of data from PCs, servers, notebooks and storage media devices.
  • Unlimited storage size.
  • Lower cost per Gb than using traditional storage systems.
Storage On Demand (SOD) project is a new way of consuming storage via utility model instead of outright purchase. Previously, we needed to consolidate the storage requests every year and bought the storage requested via a tender with some buffer to cater for adhoc requests. This was both time consuming and wasteful as we would be paying for some excess resources.

Under the current storage consumption models, storage solutions have to be upgraded every three to four years, requiring companies to purchase new hardware and migrate data to new systems constantly. The migration process entails a high degree of complexity and costs, and often forces companies to buffer in additional capacity each time storage is procured. Often left unused, the additional purchased capacity takes up space and consumes electricity.

The agency was able to eliminate the need for buffering, and the detailed utilisation reports also manage to capture the cost of storage utilisation for each user within the research community. The detailed reports meant that the we could accurately manage and capture the cost of storage utilisation from researchers’ ongoing projects, and charge usage back to the researchers based on utilisation. This has helped create greater accountability for storage use, while eliminating the manual process of estimating and calculating storage use per user.

With the SOD platform, we have a committed baseline storage plus a flexible buffer that we can tap on. This allows us to provide our users with almost immediate storage provisioning and we only pay for what we use. With the flexible buffer concept, A*STAR can have access to temporary storage that is only used for a short period of time without committing them to our baseline storage, i.e. A*STAR can use this storage for “free”.

In the event of hitting the high watermark on the flexible buffer storage, it will then be converted to the baseline storage and a new buffer storage will be shipped in. This continuity allows A*STAR users to have “unlimited scalability” on the SOD platform.

In addition, there is an offsite SOD option to allow A*STAR users to “overflow” their data to this offsite SOD which helps to reduce the floor space requirement in A*STAR Data Centre. This is equivalent to having an Amazon Storage Cloud at A*STAR’s own backyard. There is also provision for users with different performance requirement within the SOD platform. Users can choose to use storage in different performance tier.

A*STAR SOD platform also includes a built-in backend based on snapshot-to-disk technology. This provides users with a fast backup and recovery mechanism within the SOD platform itself.