Created in 1635 by royal decree, the Royal Botanical Gardens [Jardin des plantes] became the National Natural History Museum in 1793. Its missions include the conservation and enhancement of exceptional collections, research, education and knowledge-sharing with the public. 2,000 people work at the Museum, including 500 researchers. The CIO manages more than 2,000 workstations, 120 physical or virtual servers spread over three IT rooms and interconnected by optical fibers, as well as storage devices.

 

Active Circle meets the Museum’s growing storage needs with piece of mind

Le Grand Herbier, which dates back to the 17th Century, is the world’s largest herbarium, together with that of London. The collection contains more than 10 million plates in A3 format. The project of digitizing these unique plates, which are essential to the conservation and sharing of knowledge, requires a storage volume of nearly 500 Terabytes. It would be too expensive to extend the SAN network to interconnect the three IT rooms of the National Natural History Museum. In addition, a thorough analysis of the storage needs reveals a new problem: the data must be constantly accessible. The data must also be protected without resorting to the conventional weekly backup system, which is not suitable for the non-modified data. The loss of the original files is unthinkable since there are no copies. Finally, the infrastructure should enable long-term conservation at minimal initial cost per GB for both acquisition and operations. This challenge will be met by Oodrive’s teams with flying colors, thanks to a customized Active Circle solution.

 

A user-transparent solution, with no need for backups.

The Active Circle solution, a hybrid cloud-based file storage software platform combining hot local storage with cold cloud storage, was deployed in parallel with the digitization. For the Museum, the HSM (Hierarchical Storage Management) solution runs on two types of media based in two different buildings: on a hard disk for immediate access and on an LTO drive for older or rarely used data. Both the public and the researchers access the herbarium data via a web application based on Active Circle’s global hierachical file system. Access only takes a second for the most commonly used files and about a minute for the LTO drive (which will then be automatically replicated on the faster access).

 

Secure and expandable storage capacity, simplified management

The Active Circle solution provides researchers and the public with simple, guaranteed access to long-term data through a single, user-transparent interface. The hierarchical management of high-volume data can reduce storage costs by placing long-term data on an LTO drive, making storage less expensive.
The Natural History Museum’s data administration has been made extremely simple thanks to centralized management in a single tool: management of file space, disk storage space and tapes. The Museum’s CIO has been provided with an upgradable infrastructure: if extra capacity is needed, whether locally or in the hybrid cloud, the extension can be made without service interruption. The CIO also has control over his costs. In fact, the solution proposed by Oodrive is only half as expensive than previously considered solutions.

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