University data upgrade equal to 5,500 computers

University of Victoria to build massive data centre

A significant upgrade to the data centre at the University of Victoria will make it one of the largest in the country.

Known as cloud data, and funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the bump in storage will bring UVic’s data centre up to 5.5 petabytes, about 5,500 times that of a typical home or office computer. It will increase online research at UVic by up to 13 times. UVic is one of four hubs across Canada to install the data centre, known as advanced research computing.

“We’re thrilled to be hosting one of these sites,” said Dr. Michael Miller, a computer scientist and UVic’s associate vice-president of research.

“It will allow us to play a national and international role supporting research in areas such as science, engineering, health and digital humanities.”

Miller said it won’t add new jobs but will create real opportunities for students. He expects it will attract more grad students in science and engineering, particularly those who generate large amount of data,  because of the access to the facility.

“This isn’t an off-the-shelf machine,” Miller added. “You need to have strong technical expertise to use this and we are blessed to have those people. It’s a reason we were able to get the storage.”

The new storage will be added to the university’s existing data centre, built in 2008.

UVic’s computing hub will be available for use by any university researcher across Canada, regardless of location or discipline. But there is a distinct advantage to researchers at the host institution, says Miller.

“There are some types of research where it’s better to be close by so you’re not transferring data over long distances,” he explains. “Plus we’ll have the expertise right here.”

Backups of the data will be done regularly and kept safely at a discreet location off campus.

CFI’s total funding for the Cyberinfrastructure initiative is $30 million for all four sites across the country. The initiative is managed by Compute Canada, a national organization responsible for the systems, storage and software solutions of advanced research computing.



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