So-called “Big Data” hold great promise for researchers, extending their ability to explore and explain phenomena with greater precision and insight. Big Data are also a Big Headache when it comes to storage and management. Working closely with Duke’s Office of Information Technology, Duke Research Computing provides a broad enterprise-grade storage, including NAS and SAN storage configured according to the requirements of the research. Data storage technologies have been in constant and quick development, and Research Computing is at the table when it comes to choices and initiatives that the university IT considers and undertakes.

Duke Research Computing conceived and has managed a large 1.5 petabyte storage installation of EMC Isilon equipment to support data-producing core facilities in the life sciences. The project, funded by the National Institutes of Health in fall 2014 (NIH 1S10OD018164-01), began operation in November 2014. This initiative was designed not merely to provide a place to put data, but is the beginning of a data commons for life sciences research, which has experienced explosive growth in data that are useful for researchers. The Duke Data Commons will be replaced in the second half of 2018 with updated storage provided at about the same cost.

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