Case Study:

U.S. Natural History Museum faces data storage problem of Jurassic proportions

SHI, Microsoft and Nasuni keep history alive with data and storage expansion

Customer Profile

A century-old U.S. Natural History museum with a globally active research institution that holds one of the world's largest collections of scientific specimens and artifacts.

Challenge

Digitizing 30 million high-resolution images, staff files and supporting scientific data caused a data explosion resulting in insufficient data storage and protection.

Solution

storage
infrastructure
Security

SHI performed a Storage Assessment and recommended deploying Nasuni Enterprise File Services™ backed by Microsoft Azure for a hybrid approach with cloud-based storage tied into on-premises infrastructure.

Partners

Microsoft Nasuni

Benefits/Results

  • Offered unlimited capacity, automatic backups, instant disaster recovery, and unified management through a single console
  • Provided high level of service to hundreds of internal users without disrupting the ongoing digitalization process
  • Significantly shrunk the data center footprint – leading to a 60 percent reduction in file storage costs and saving up to 50 percent in time management for the IT team

Anyone who has seen "Night at the Museum" is familiar with Ben Stiller's battle against prehistoric exhibits coming alive and escaping at night. For the IT staff of one museum, digitizing 30 million new records caused some storage chaos of its own.

Challenge:

The century-old U.S. Natural History museum – with a globally active scientific research institution – faced a problem of carnivorous proportions. Their dinosaurs weren't coming alive at night, but their data was on the verge of devouring them. In order to catalog one of the world's largest collections of scientific specimens and artifacts detailing the history of life on earth, the museum's IT department needed to digitize approximately 30 million items from the fields of archaeology, biology, botany, and paleontology. The fast-growing number of high-resolution images, staff files and supporting data from museum researchers quickly caused a data explosion resulting in insufficient data protection. They were using tape drives, a tape library, and eventually a disk-based storage system – which proved to be a costly endeavor.

Adding to overwhelming data growth, the museum's new DNA sequencer – used to map genomes of endangered species – placed an additional burden on this non-profit's storage capacity.

The museum's small IT staff quickly recognized their traditional storage area network (SAN) was not up to the new challenge. Their 300 aging and overworked drives were slowly failing on a weekly basis. With over 2 million online visitors a year and data that needed to be readily accessible 24/7 for researchers around the world, finding a new solution became an urgent necessity.

Solution:

After evaluating the results of a Storage Assessment and architecting several different options (including increasing the customer's existing traditional block level SAN storage), SHI recommended deploying Nasuni Enterprise File Services™ backed by Microsoft Azure. The combined technologies formed a hybrid approach with cloud-based storage tied into on-premises infrastructure.

The solution provided highly scalable and unlimited capacity, automatic backups, instant disaster recovery, and unified management through a single console. The Nasuni UniFS® file system easily links a local Nasuni Edge appliance to Azure's virtually unlimited cloud storage resources, allowing for fast, remote access to stored files and built-in data protection.

The hybrid solution also enabled the customer to provide an exceptionally high level of service to hundreds of their internal users, and the easy deployment process allowed their global scientists and researchers to continue the ongoing digitalization process without any disruption.

Furthermore, the hybrid solution significantly shrunk the customer's data center footprint – leading to a 60 percent reduction in file storage costs – and saved up to 50 percent in time management for the customer's IT team.

So far, the museum has secured 70 terabytes of Azure cloud and has peace of mind knowing the Nasuni file system will never run out of space.

With storage no longer a problem, the museum's IT staff are now free to work on upgrading their networking infrastructure.