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IBM to Help Cern Build Massive Data Grid to Understand Origins of the Universe

IBM Haifa Labs News Center

IBM's Innovative Storage Virtualization Technology to Handle Up to One Petabyte of Data

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND and ARMONK, N.Y., (April 2, 2003) -- IBM and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) today announced that IBM is joining the CERN openlab for DataGrid applications to collaborate in creating a massive data-management system built on Grid computing.

IBM's innovative storage virtualization and file management technology will play a pivotal role in this collaboration, which aims to by create a data file system far larger than exists today to help scientists at the renowned particle physics research center understand some of the most fundamental questions about the nature of matter and the universe.

Conceived in IBM Research as Storage Tank®, the new technology is designed to provide scalable, high-performance and highly available management of huge amounts of data using a single file namespace regardless of where or on what operating system the data reside. IBM and CERN will work together to extend Storage Tank's capabilities so it can manage and provide access from any location worldwide to the unprecedented torrent of data -- billions of gigabytes a year -- that CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is expected to produce when it goes online in 2007. The LHC is the next-generation particle accelerator designed to recreate the conditions shortly after the Big Bang in a laboratory environment to help researchers understand the initial seconds when the universe was formed.

The very same CERN community that invented the World Wide Web in 1990 is now developing a new application for the Internet -- Grid computing – that will push technology limits with its data processing requirements for the LHC. CERN openlab is a collaboration between CERN and leading industrial partners, which aims to create and implement data-intensive Grid-computing technologies that will aid the LHC scientists. Because the same issues facing CERN are becoming increasingly important to the IT industry, the CERN openlab and its innovative partners -- which include Enterasys Networks, HP and Intel -- are eager to explore new computing and data management solutions far beyond today's Internet-based computing.

By 2005, the CERN openlab collaboration with IBM is expected to be able to handle up to a petabyte (a million gigabytes) of data, which is equivalent to the information stored in 20 million four-draw filing cabinets full of paper, or 500 million floppy disks, or 1.5 million CD-ROMs.

"CERN has a long-standing collaborative relationship with IBM, and we are delighted that IBM is joining the CERN openlab for DataGrid applications," said Wolfgang von R·den, Information Technology Division Leader and Head of the CERN openlab. "Together with IBM, we aim to achieve a one petabyte storage solution and integrate it with the Grid that CERN is building to handle the extreme data challenges of the LHC project."

"CERN's scientists and colleagues want to be able to get to their data wherever it may be -- local or remote and regardless of which operating system on which it may reside," said Jai Menon, IBM Fellow at IBM's Almaden Research Center (San Jose, Calif.) and co-director of IBM's Storage Systems Institute joint program between IBM Research and the company's product division. "This is the perfect environment for us to enhance Storage Tank to meet the demanding requirements of large-scale Grid computing systems."

As part of the agreement, several leading storage management experts from IBM's Almaden Research Center (San Jose, California) and Haifa Research Lab (Haifa, Israel) will work with the CERN openlab team to create key Storage Tank extensions required by the demanding IT environment. These extensions will include object store technology being developed in the Haifa Research Lab; an object store can be the underlying storage for file systems such as Storage Tank. According to Julian Satran, Distinguished Engineer at the Haifa Lab, "Object stores have the potential of revolutionizing the storage industry, enabling significantly higher levels of security, scalability and manageability than traditional storage systems." IBM will also give CERN the system's initial 20 terabytes of high-performance disk storage and six Linux-based servers, and IBM Switzerland will provide additional support.

In addition, through its Shared University Research (SUR) program, IBM will supply CERN with the system's initial 20 terabytes of high-performance disk storage, a cluster of six eServer xSeries systems running Linux and on-site engineering support and services by IBM Switzerland. The SUR award is valued at more than $2.5 million.

Storage Tank employs policy-based storage management to help lower its "total cost of ownership." Clustering and specialized protocols that detect network failures enable very high reliability and availability

In this initiative, IBM is following a collaboration strategy initiated in 2001 with the European Union-sponsored European Data Grid project, which is also led by CERN.

About CERN
CERN is the European Organization for Nuclear Research, the world's largest particle physics center near Geneva, Switzerland. Technological development at CERN has given the world advances as varied as medical imaging and the World Wide Web. Founded in 1954, the laboratory was one of Europe's first joint ventures and has become a shining example of international collaboration. From the original 12 signatories of the CERN convention, membership has grown to the present 20 member states. More information about CERN is available at

About IBM
IBM is the world's largest information technology company, with 80 years of leadership in helping businesses innovate. Drawing on resources from across IBM and key Business Partners, IBM offers a wide range of services, solutions and technologies that enable customers, large and small, to take full advantage of the new era of e-business. IBM's Shared University Research (SUR) program provides computing equipment and research collaborations to institutions around the world for advanced research projects in areas of mutual interest and benefit, including: Grid Computing, Autonomic Computing, Life Sciences and Deep Computing. The SUR awards also connect top academic researchers with IBM Research personnel, and representatives from product-development and solution-provider communities. IBM awards about 50 SUR grants per year worldwide. For more information about IBM, visit

(R) Storage Tank is a registered trademark of the International Business Machines Corporation.


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