How database virtualisation helped the EBI save datacentre space

The European Bioinformatics Institute recently scooped the award for Best Datacentre Project at the CW European User Awards, and here's why In its role as data custodian, it’s up to the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) in Cambridge to ensure the world’s biological information is freely available and accessible for use by the global scientific community.
  • The non-profit is currently sitting on 50,000TB of biological data, which is distributed across three UK datacentres. Scientists from academia and the commercial world are invited to use these datacentres for research, app development or staff training purposes.
  • According to EBI calculations, it fields around 12 million requests each month for access to this data worldwide.
  • Users can choose to download and analyse it locally or use EBI’s own infrastructure as a service (IaaS) to do the deed and – in turn – save themselves the hassle of finding somewhere to store it all on-premise.
“This is a fairly new approach and is feeding into the different ways the life science community wants to consume and deliver research. We’re seeing prototypes of this model coming out in a range of life science areas,” says Steven Newhouse, head of technical services at EBI.
  • With around 20% of the EBI’s 570 staff devoting their time to carrying out collaborative and investigation-led life science research, the amount of data the organisation has to manage is doubling every year.
  • At the current rate of generation, the data the organisation manages is expected to grow over the next five years to around 1.5 million TB, putting huge pressure on EBI’s data infrastructure and operations.

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