Sigma2 acquires new national storage infrastructure


The new storage system is part of the national e-infrastructure for research and education and will by far be the largest offer for research data storage in Norway.

An illustration of a truck arriving in an underground data centre.

A critical tool for researchers in Norway

The original national storage infrastructure, NIRD (National Infrastructure for Research Data), is from 2017. Modern research generates large amounts of data and requires corresponding storage capacity. In order to be competitive, Norwegian researchers depend on having access to e-infrastructure at a high international level. Together with the national supercomputers, NIRD forms the backbone of the national e-infrastructure for research and education in Norway.

With the acquisition of the new generation NIRD, researchers in Norway will get access to new and future-oriented services for all scientific disciplines that require resources for secure storage, processing and publication of research data. The new infrastructure offers, among other things, adaptable application services, support for file and object storage and several protocols, and application programming interfaces (APIs).

- Storing and processing large amounts of data in a good and secure way is important for Norway as a research nation and our ability to create value. Now the national storage infrastructure is being strengthened and this is good news for researchers of all scientific disciplines, says State Secretary Oddmund Løkensgard Hoel (Sp).

Technical specifications

At initial installation, the storage capacity of the new NIRD will be as much as 32 petabytes (PB) and can in the future be expanded to 70 PB if needed. In comparison, the current storage infrastructure has 12 PB of storage space in two separate instances and has almost reached the maximum available storage capacity. The estimated life cycle of this type of system is up to six years, and several components go out of production during the year and are therefore no longer supported by the supplier.

The contract with Move will secure resources for the storage infrastructure for the next five to six years. With an I/O throughput of 229 GB/s, the new NIRD will support demanding workflows, such as artificial intelligence/machine learning and data-intensive analysis. The new NIRD is based on IBM's Spectrum Scale, Spectrum Discover and Spectrum Protect. Spectrum Discover provides new possibilities for metadata processing and allows the researcher to have better control over and insight into stored data. The use of object storage and APIs provides opportunities for collaboration across projects and borders.

Meets future demand

The new NIRD storage infrastructure supports Norwegian research in line with the national guidelines for access and reuse of research data and the FAIR principles. FAIR is an international standard for handling research data, which states that data must be Findable, Accessible Interoperable and Reusable.
Data stored via the national e-infrastructure consists of both active project data and data that is openly available in the research data archive. For researchers who use the service, storage will be perceived as both performance-efficient and cost-effective, at the same time as the system will support complex scientific workflows such as data analysis and artificial intelligence.

- Norway as a research nation is dependent on having a well-coordinated e-infrastructure with a solid offer of calculation and storage services. The data volume from research is constantly increasing, and it is important to ensure scalability and flexibility to meet existing and future demand, says General Manager of Sigma2, Gunnar Bøe.

The first national system to enter the new data centre

Sigma2 works closely with the universities of Bergen, Oslo, Tromsø and NTNU to provide e-infrastructure services. The collaboration is called NRIS (Norwegian research infrastructure services), and existing national supercomputers and storage facilities are located on campuses in Trondheim and Tromsø.

Sigma2 recently signed a contract with Lefdal Mine Datacenter (LMD) in Nordfjordeid for data centre capacity for future national facilities. The new NIRD will be the first of the new national facilities to be placed there. The hardware will arrive from IBM's factory in Mexico to Nordfjordeid at the end of January, while the containers NIRD will be installed in will arrive from the German manufacturer Rittal.

About Move AS

Move is a specialist in IT infrastructure. The company delivers market-leading technology, operated services, integration and management of Hybrid Multi-Cloud solutions, Cyber security and data analysis to public and private companies throughout Norway.

About IBM

IBM is one of the world's leading technology companies focusing on hybrid cloud solutions and artificial intelligence. Secure access and analysis of data are central, and the core of the solutions they deliver to Move, which is their partner in Norway.