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The Scholarly Data Archive (SDA) at Indiana University

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System overview

The Indiana University Scholarly Data Archive (SDA) provides extensive capacity (approximately 42 PB of tape overall) for storing and accessing research data. The SDA is a distributed storage service co-located at IU data centers in Bloomington and Indianapolis, providing IU researchers with large-scale archival or near-line data storage, arranged in large files, with two copies of data made by default (for disaster recovery).

The SDA is based on the High Performance Storage System (HPSS), a consortium-developed hierarchical storage management (HSM) package that makes the SDA's hierarchy of storage media transparent to its users. The SDA's system architecture comprises fast, efficient disk cache front-end components (with a capacity of roughly 1,800 TB) that move infrequently accessed data to two high-end tape libraries (with nearly 15 PB of capacity). Using the I-Light high-performance network between IUB and IUPUI, the SDA creates two tape copies of user data simultaneously (one at each data center), adding a degree of disaster tolerance to both sites.

The SDA is well suited for storing large volumes of data (i.e., tens of gigabytes to several terabytes per project), and data that are accessed relatively infrequently (i.e., archival or near-line storage). The SDA backend is not designed for storing a large number of small files. Individual files should be at least 1 MB. If you need to store many small files on the SDA, use a file compression utility (e.g., gzip, tar, or zip) to bundle your files into a single, large archive file.

The SDA supports high-performance access methods, such as the Hierarchical Storage Interface (HSI); an HPSS API is available for programmers, as well.

Note: At IU, the initials SDA, MDSS, and HPSS are often used interchangeably to describe the same service.

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System information

Note: The SDA is offline for regularly scheduled maintenance every Sunday 7am-10am.

System configuration
Machine type Distributed HPSS data archive
Operating system Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6
Storage information
Network file system protocols HSI/HTAR, CIFS (Samba) as read-only, SFTP/SCP, HTTPS
Usable tape capacity 15 PB
Total disk capacity (cache) 1800 TB
Quotas 50 TB (default) per user, 50 TB (default) per project; increases as needed
Backup and purge policies Dual copies of data, but no backups; system is never purged
Aggregate I/O 80 Gbps

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Working with data containing PHI

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) established rules protecting the privacy and security of individually identifiable health information. The HIPAA Privacy Rule and Security Rule set national standards requiring organizations and individuals to implement certain administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of protected health information (PHI).

This system meets certain requirements established in the HIPAA Security Rule that enable its use for research involving data that contain protected health information (PHI). You may use this resource for research involving data that contain PHI only if you institute additional physical, administrative, and technical safeguards that complement those UITS already has in place. For details, see When using UITS Research Technologies systems and services, what are my legal responsibilities for protecting the privacy and security of data containing protected health information? You can also contact the Advanced Biomedical IT Core for help.

Note: Although PHI is a type of institutional data classified as Critical by the IU Committee of Data Stewards, other types of institutional data classified as Critical are not permitted on Research Technologies systems. Except for PHI, the most sensitive classification of institutional data allowed on Research Technologies resources is Restricted. For help determining which institutional data elements classified as Critical are considered PHI, see Which data elements in the classifications of institutional data are considered protected health information (PHI)?

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Requesting an account

To request an account on the Scholarly Data Archive (SDA) or Research File System (RFS):

After submitting your account request, UITS will notify you via email when your account is ready for use.

For eligibility requirements, see the "Research system accounts (all campuses)" section in What computing accounts are available at IU, and for whom?

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Transferring files

Once you have an SDA account, you can access it from any networked host. The method you use depends on your operating system and level of comfort with the command-line interface.

Methods available for transferring data to and from the Indiana University Scholarly Data Archive (SDA) include Hierarchical Storage Interface (HSI), secure FTP (SFTP), secure copy (SCP), and https (via a web browser). For instructions, see:

Read-only access is available via CIFS/Samba; see At IU, how do I access the SDA via Samba?

HSI, the highest performing non-grid method, provides shell-like facilities for recursive operations, and can take input data from standard input. HSI also can perform file migration to tape, stage files from tape to disk, and purge files from the disk cache. HSI is available on the UITS research computing systems when you load the hpss module; for more about Modules, see On Big Red II, Karst, and Mason at IU, how do I use Modules to manage my software environment? Accessing the SDA via HSI from a personal workstation requires installing a special client; updated HSI clients for Linux, OS X, or Windows are available for download from the UITS Research Storage HSI page.

For Windows or OS X users who prefer a graphical interface, UITS recommends using a graphical SFTP client. For OS X users, UITS recommends Fetch, especially if you intend to transfer large amounts of data.

Note: For reasons of code compatibility with future versions of HPSS, UITS introduced a redesigned version of the Scholarly Data Archive (SDA) web interface, which entered production January 3, 2015.

The new web interface functions much like the previous version, with a few exceptions:

If you have questions about the new SDA web interface, contact the UITS Research Storage team.

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Reference

See On the Scholarly Data Archive at IU, what are classes of service, and how do I use them?

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Acknowledging grant support

The Indiana University cyberinfrastructure managed by the Research Technologies division of UITS is supported by funding from several grants, each of which requires you to acknowledge its support in all presentations and published works stemming from research it has helped to fund. Conscientious acknowledgment of support from past grants also enhances the chances of IU's research community securing funding from grants in the future. For the acknowledgment statement(s) required for scholarly printed works, web pages, talks, online publications, and other presentations that make use of this and/or other grant-funded systems at IU, see If I use IU's research cyberinfrastructure, what sources of funding do I need to acknowledge in my published work?

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Support

The SDA is maintained by the Research Storage team. If you have questions or need help, email Research Storage.

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