Geoscience mines Budget for storage project

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Geoscience mines Budget for storage project

Forecasts need for 50 petabytes of storage in the next ten years.

Geoscience Australia (GA) has emerged as one of the winners in the 2010 Federal Budget after securing $2.9 million to address its boundless appetite for data storage.

GA provides data to the Government and industry to help inform decisions on the exploitation of natural resources, the management of the environment and the safety of critical infrastructure.

The $2.9 million budget boost, announced late Tuesday night, will help address critical storage needs at the agency after a damning audit of its infrastructure.

An audit report [PDF] issued by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) in February found that GA had "insufficient storage space in its corporate systems to store and back up its data and information holdings."

The report found a number of areas where the storage of data at GA needed improvement, including:

  • a lack of documentation detailing the extent of its existing and legacy data holdings;
  • data and information on paper, CDs, DVDs or in analogue format that had yet to be fully assessed to determine whether they should be maintained and copied to new storage media, made accessible by incorporating them into existing holdings, or achived;
  • insufficient storage space in its corporate systems to store and back up its data and information holdings;
  • out of date IT Disaster Recovery and IT Business Continuity Plans;

Geoscience Australia chief information officer Stuart Girvan told iTnews that these issues are being addressed by a multi-stage, multi-year process dubbed the 'Mass Storage Project'.

The 'Mass Storage Project' has involved an assessment of GA's current and future data and IT storage requirements, evaluation of options, tender processes, and ultimately a migration to a new storage system.

"A couple of years ago when we realised we had this problem, we decided to put in an interim solution for storage, which would let us grow while we did our more detailed investigation into the future requirements of the agency in terms of storage," Girvan said.

"That interim solution, which increased capacity from 20TB to 120TB, will be in place until the permanent solution is delivered."

GA's 'permanent solution' will be delivered by Hitachi Data Systems, which secured a $4.8 million contract with GA in February this year for the provision of hardware, software and professional services relating to data storage. 

Girvan told iTnews that  HDS have already commenced work on the solution and is "not far off the complete delivery."

Girvan says the decision to bring HDS on board to carry out the necessary work was made a long time before the agency knew it would receive the budget boost. GA still would have gone ahead with the project regardless, he said, because of a pressing need to improve the scalabilty of its storage.

"We had some legacy systems that were quite expensive on a per-unit cost basis, and we needed to drop that cost," he said. "The $2.9m budget grant goes towards that project."

The responsibilities that fall under the auspices of GA creates a wealth of data. GA is asked to provide pre-competitive data to the minerals and petroleum exploration industry; data of satellite imagery dating back more than thirty years and modelling of tsunamis and their impact.

Some information dates back 60 years or more and has to be kept on file.

Girvan said the 'Mass Storage Project' will help the agency to achieve the capacity required for such a huge storage undertaking.

"We will be slightly over-provisioned to make sure that we can account for any additional growth in the first instance," he said. 

"Over the next 9-10 years, we expect our total storage holdings to be in the order of 50 petabytes. That's based on data growth rates that we've observed in the agency over the last few years."

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