Hopkins researcher will lead construction of one of the world’s largest science data storage networks

June 7, 2018
Alex Szalay

The Open Storage Network will help address the problem of “data deluge”—the avalanche of data that scientists can now collect through advanced scientific and computing methods (Image: Joey Pulone)

Johns Hopkins University’s Alex Szalay will lead a two-year effort to begin building a storage network allowing scientists to more efficiently store and analyze huge caches of data and share them with other researchers.

The National Science Foundation today announced a $1.8 million grant to a nationwide team, led by Szalay as principal investigator, to start developing the Open Storage Network.

“The goal is to create a robust, industrial-strength national storage substrate that can impact 80 percent of the NSF research community,” said Szalay, a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins and director of its Institute for Data Intensive Engineering and Science.

The eventual buildout of the network may cost between $20 million and $30 million in hardware and software, a relatively modest investment that “could completely change the academic big data landscape,” Szalay said.

A conservative projection of universities that may join the network would make the Open Storage Network, or OSN, one of the largest distributed data storage networks dedicated to science in the world—at about 200 petabytes, or 200 million gigabytes—with economies of scale that would make the management of huge datasets cheaper for all involved, Szalay said.

Szalay is an astrophysicist whose work on galaxies led him to a deep interest in how all of science manages the “data deluge.” That’s the term he and others use to describe the avalanche of data that advanced scientific methods have made available to researchers studying questions as diverse as the origins of the universe, climate change, and the genetic origins of disease. Szalay now holds appointments as a professor both in physics and astronomy in the university’s Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and in computer science in the Whiting School of Engineering.

Excerpted from The Hub >>

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