EBI Deploys NetApp® Solutions to Deliver Reliable Data Storage and Uninterrupted Research and Data Access

Cambridge, UK. - April 28, 2003 -- The European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), Europe's leading center for research and services in bioinformatics, has deployed Network Appliance enterprise storage solutions to solve its business issues of expanding databases, an increasing number of users and systems spread across disparate platforms. The Network Appliance storage systems have created a scalable and highly available networked storage environment. In addition, DNFS (Distributed Network File Services) caching technology has dramatically improved the speed of data access across the EBI's entire infrastructure.

As genome research gains momentum across the globe it is vital that biomedical researchers have continuous access to biological data. The EBI's mission is to ensure that the rapidly growing body of information gathered from molecular biology and genome research is available within the public domain and is accessible freely to all members of the scientific community in ways that promote scientific progress. The EBI does this by building, maintaining, and making available databases and tools that allow researchers to search, access, and analyse this information, as well as carrying out its own research in bioinformatics.

The organization's storage requirement is to manage the growing amount of information from molecular biology and genome research. In addition, the EBI portal responds to more than 10 million monthly Web requests for information, consisting of anything from general information to research requests, all of which generate enormous amounts of activity and bandwidth.

Petteri Jokinen, Head of Systems and Networking at EBI, commented on the Network Appliance deployment, "The EBI operates from a multitude of applications including FastA, BLAST, and ClustalW, Oracle databases, plus Tru64 Unix, Windows, Solaris, and Linux operating systems and each is a mission-critical function of the organisation. When we considered storage solutions it was essential that the system we selected would interoperate across our entire infrastructure."

"Due to the nature of our business, a multiplatform interoperable solution was essential. We have consistently found Network Appliance storage solutions to exceed our performance expectations, particularly when under pressure, giving us the freedom to focus on other projects. In fact the highly scalable and high performing environment has enabled us to centralize and simplify our storage environment and therefore allows us to concentrate on managing the growth of the organization," continued Jokinen.

DNFS Caching-Reduces Data Management Costs

Following a six-month beta test of a Network Appliance DNFS (Distributed Network File Services) appliance, the EBI decided to deploy the system to simplify data management and scale the PC farm performance without adding complexity. The appliance has reduced time by eliminating the error-prone and time-consuming process the EBI had to face daily of copying all data to its PC farm.

The DNFS appliance is used in a read-intensive compute farm environment to scale overall performance. By distributing the file access loads from the PC farm across the DNFS appliance, the overall system performance is scaled without adding any management complexity. This "PC farm acceleration" deployment provides the additional throughput needed by the compute clients without additional data management burden. Hot data sets get automatically replicated from the host file server to the DNFS appliance. The data is served to the clients without performance bottlenecks.

Centralized Management Increases Data Accessibility

Jokinen commented on some of the challenges the EBI dealt with daily just to protect its data and make it available, "We were managing significant local disk restrictions that only allowed one job to run at a time; it was very time consuming and difficult to store all data in a current format in one location. Network Appliance has provided the EBI with an easy to manage infrastructure that has enabled massive growth, reliably stores over 12TB of data, allows rapid information access, and has cut the response time for data searches on the PC farm, while also boosting performance."

The EBI has been a Network Appliance customer for more than 5 years and continues to utilize the first system it bought for management of home directories. Jokinen commented on future plans for the development of his organization's infrastructure, "For EBI, it is an easy choice, wherever a project has funding and needs network-attached storage, we know that Network Appliance will be the very best solution for the job."

About the EBI

The European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) is part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), and is located on the Wellcome Trust Human Genome Campus in Hinxton near Cambridge (UK). The EBI grew out of EMBL's pioneering work in providing public biological databases to the research community. It hosts some of the world's most important collections of biological data, including DNA sequences (EMBL-Bank), protein sequences (SWISS-PROT and TrEMBL), animal genomes (Ensembl), three-dimensional structures (the Macromolecular Structure Database) and a new resource to hold data from microarray experiments (ArrayExpress). The EBI hosts several research groups and its scientists continually develop new tools for the biocomputing community. www.ebi.ac.uk

About Network Appliance

Network Appliance is a world leader in open network storage solutions for today's data-intensive enterprise. Since its inception in 1992, Network Appliance has provided technology, product, and partner solutions that continue to drive the evolution of storage. Information about Network Appliance solutions and services is available at www.netapp.com


Nicole Harvey
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Nina Thomas
Network Appliance
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