Rutherford Appleton Laboratory uses Panasas ActiveStor to accelerate global climate research


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With nearly 8.5 petabytes of ActiveStor storage, the Panasas installation at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) represents one of the largest multi-location, high-performance computing (HPC) storage deployments in Great Britain. Panasas ActiveStor gives RAL a solution that offers extreme scalability and simple storage management capabilities so that scientists can focus on important research, not on cumbersome system administration.

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Rutherford Appleton Laboratory uses Panasas ActiveStor to accelerate global climate research

  1. 1. 1.888.PANASAS | www.panasas.comSidenote: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxProject BackgroundRAL’s climate research team was recentlyfunded by the UK’s Department of Business,Innovation and Skills with a £145 millione-infrastructure grant, allowing it to investin nearly eight petabytes (PB) of high per-formance storage in order to expand itshighly data intensive climate modelling ef-forts. The team, led by Dr. Bryan Lawrence,Professor of Weather and Climate Comput-ing at the University of Reading, and Di-rector of Models and Data at the NationalCentre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS),knew it needed to supplant its legacy,direct attach storage with high perfor-mance networked storage. A parallel filesystem would be important if it was toobtain the scalability and affordable per-formance required for its rapidly expandingclimate modelling workloads. It enlistedthe help of Dr. Peter Oliver at the ScientificComputing Technology Group (e-ScienceCentre) within RAL to advise them on thevarious HPC storage technologies available.Technology and Business ChallengesDr. Oliver recommended a high perfor-mance parallel file system in order to copewith massive datasets that would chokethe team’s legacy systems. His aim was tofind a low cost per terabyte solution thatoffered extreme scalability and ease of inte-gration and management. RAL researchersknew that despite the immense size of theinitial storage deployment, the anticipateddata growth would mean that the newstorage system would need to easily scale-out to meet growing capacity and perfor-mance demands.A principal business challenge was thenarrow deployment window. The project’sfunding stipulated that all equipment mustarrive within two months of the placed or-der, and the entire storage capacity neededto be online and fully operational by theend of the third month.The team evaluated Panasas ActiveStor 11as well as competing hardware systemsrunning GPFS and Lustre. After a thoroughanalysis, they chose Panasas because itoffered a fully integrated solution thatCUSTOMERRutherford Appleton LaboratoryINDUSTRYAcademic ResearchChallengeRAL needed to quickly replace its legacydirect attach storage with HPC storageand a parallel file system to support rapidlyexpanding climate modelling workloads.It required a low cost per terabyte solutionthat offered extreme scalability, easy inte-gration, and simple management.SolutionPanasas ActiveStor NAS appliances with thefully integrated PanFS®parallel file system.ResultRAL’s massive ActiveStor integration, totalingmore than eight petabytes, is one of thelargest HPC storage deployments in GreatBritain, comprising facilities distributed acrossfour sites. ActiveStor delivered unmatchedparallel file system performance in additionto the scalability, manageability, reliability,and value required for RAL’s data intensiveclimate modelling.SUMMARYINDUSTRY:AcademicresearchSUCCESSSTORY:RutherfordAppletonLaboratoryRAL Uses Panasas®ActiveStor®to Accelerate Global Climate ResearchRutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) is one of the UK’s principal government labs andpart of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) which works to keep theUK at the forefront of international science. RAL supports research in such varied areasas astronomy, astrophysics, biology, climate modelling, computational science, energy,medicine, nuclear science, particle physics, and space science. The council has a broadscientific applications portfolio and shares its diverse scientific computing expertise withthe world’s academic and industrial manufacturing communities. Roughly 10,000 scientistsand engineers use the laboratory’s high performance computing (HPC) facilities every yearto conduct ground breaking research in these and other big data-focused disciplines.Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
  2. 2. INDUSTRY:AcademicResearch© 2013 Panasas, Inc. All rights reserved. Panasas, the Panasas logo, ActiveStor, PanFS and DirectFlow are trademarks or registered trademarks of Panasas, Inc., in the U.S.and/or other countries. All other trademarks, registered trademarks, trade names, company names and service marks are the respective properties of their holders.Panasas ActiveStorPanasas ActiveStor is the world’s fastest parallel storage system,linearly scaling capacity and performance to 150GB/s, the industry’shighest single file system throughput per terabyte of enterprise SATAstorage. All ActiveStor appliances eliminate the bottlenecks foundin traditional NAS systems, accelerating application I/O performanceby enabling HPC cluster nodes to access a single, scalable file systemdirectly and in parallel. RAL can simply add individual blade chassisor entire racks to non-disruptively scale capacity and performanceas its storage requirements grow.ActiveStor provides a single point of management for a single,scalable file system, allowing researchers at Rutherford AppletonLaboratory to focus on using their data to fuel discovery insteadof having to worry about overcoming IT challenges. Capacityand performance planning, mount point management, and dataload balancing across multiple pools of storage are all commonadministration problems that are easily solved with Panasas storage.outshined the alternatives in cost, ease ofdeployment, ease of management, andits seamless linear scalability. The fact thatActiveStor delivered twice the requiredperformance was an added bonus.A Massive DeploymentIn total, RAL’s ActiveStor installationrepresent one of the largest HPC storagedeployments in Great Britain. The massiveActiveStor deployment comprised facilitiesdistributed across four sites, introducing anew shared-resource approach to researchfor the participating organizations. Almost8.5PB of ActiveStor storage was deployedacross three NCAS research sites: 6.6PB atRAL, 720 terabytes (TB) at the University ofReading, 180TB at the University of Leeds,and 900TB at a fourth site, the Internation-al Space and Innovation Centre (ISIC).“The Panasas parallel file systemremains resilient even at scale,and the direct and parallelaccess to the storage pool meansthat we can work on our mostcomplex simulations, unaffectedby the system bottlenecks of ourprevious equipment. The Panasassolution gives us powerful HPCcapabilities to help leverage ourmassive datasets to advanceessential scientific discovery.”Dr. Bryan Lawrence,University of Reading & NCASSummaryRutherford Appleton Laboratory chosePanasas for one of the largest storagedeployments in Great Britain. ActiveStor’sfully integrated parallel file system, easyscalability, simplified management, andaffordable performance were all consider-ations that made the difference. It eliminat-ed the performance bottlenecks, tediousstorage support efforts, and administrationheadaches of RAL’s legacy systems so thatresearchers could concentrate on theirimportant work instead of worrying abouttheir IT infrastructure.SUCCESSSTORY:RutherfordAppletonLaboratoryPanasas ActiveStor deployment at RAL042320131085