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UW PetaLibrary Provides Digital Storage Service for UW Researchers and Those Worldwide

November 22, 2016
man standing next to computer servers
Mike Killean, storage architect for the Advanced Research Computing Center, poses with servers that house the petaLibrary, a storage service for UW researchers who need to reliably store and exchange data with students, and collaborators anywhere in the world. (UW Photo)

The University of Wyoming Libraries has extended its reach to assist faculty and student researchers globally by sharing a digital data repository.

The petaLibrary, a digital storage system that will enhance UW and other researchers’ ability to store and share data with collaborators and students around the world, launched Nov. 1. The petaLibrary is a storage service for UW researchers who need to reliably store and exchange data with students and collaborators anywhere in the world. It also is a place for UW researchers to store data linked to publications; store data sets as publications themselves; and be in compliance with funder requirements.

“We are already hosting 140 terabytes worth of data, and hope to scale to multiple petabytes,” says Mike Killean, storage architect for the Advanced Research Computing Center (ARCC). “RotaryWingCFD (computational fluid dynamics) is our biggest user and houses about 60 terabytes of simulation data. They use this to archive data that is not being actively used on a high-performance compute cluster, like Mount Moran or Yellowstone (NCAR).”

The primary focus of RotaryWingCFD is to develop high-fidelity computational fluid dynamics models and apply them to unsteady flows around helicopters and wind turbines. Several application cases are planned that include helicopter maneuvers, wind turbine aero-elasticity and wind farm analysis focusing on the interference effect between multiple wind turbines.

Killean says the petaLibrary also has committed to storing data for Don McLeod, a UW professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.

“We had about five terabytes of law enforcement and fire suppression costs, and rural residential development data for several Rocky Mountain states at the county level,” McLeod says. “Our current storage server was to be retired, so we contacted IT about the petaLibrary. After some discussion, we purchased six terabytes and had our files transferred. We now have storage for 10 years allowing further, uninterrupted research opportunities.”

Additionally, the School of Energy Resources’ Shell 3-D Visualization Center uses storage space to archive data that are used in its virtual reality research, as well as imagery/data used in the 3-D CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment), Killean says.

The petaLibrary has three core storage areas.

-- Home Space is a basic tier of research storage that provides 500 gigabytes of free research storage to each faculty member for his or her personal research use. Any storage space above 500 gigabytes is charged at the Commons yearly rate.   

-- Commons is a collaborative, project-oriented storage area intended to be used jointly with other researchers (UW and/or beyond) to store data from an active research project. Principal investigators are able to delegate access permissions to other campus users or external collaborators. Commons costs $100 per terabyte per year, and is billed monthly based on current usage. Long-term storage costs are $1,500 per terabyte for 10 years, and are billed upfront based on allocation.

-- Publications acts as the back-end data repository for, which launched at the same time as the petaLibrary. There is no cost for the Publications service, which is curated by Digital Collections in the Libraries department.

ARCC’s goal is to provide a cost-effective centralized storage service that removes the need for researchers to host their own storage mediums. Currently, data sets on campus are stored in various ways, and often with less than ideal methods and conditions. Some, such as storing key data solely on a USB key, have even led to data loss. Other storage mediums have become obsolete. For example, magnetic reels from the 1970s and 1980s would require UW to purchase costly equipment in order to attempt to recover the data.

“The petaLibrary will address both the data protection and the soon-to-be obsolete technology issues,” Killean says. “Data that are housed on the petaLibrary will be protected with on-site backups, and will be ‘future-proof’ by ARCC’s commitment to seamlessly migrate data to newer technologies as they become available, removing this data management burden from researchers and enabling them to focus on their research.”

In addition to active data sets, ARCC has partnered with the UW Libraries to provide a data publication mechanism known as “The University of Wyoming Data Repository” found at Funding agencies are requiring researchers to state how they will share their data, before awarding the grant, with increasing frequency. Publishers also are beginning to demand that all data used in manuscript be shared before their paper will be published in journals. Prior to the procurement of the petaLibrary, researchers had to look outside of UW to meet these requirements. The petaLibrary is eliminating these hurdles and freeing up researchers to focus on research, Killean says.

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