Data Services Newsletter

Volume 3 : No 1 : March 2001

Upgrade of the DMS Mass Storage System

Photo of the mass storage system
Figure 1: Example of the New Mass Storage System from StorageTek

On the weekend of January 20, 2001, the IRIS DMC shutdown their StorageTek Oracle Wolfcreek robot for the last time to make way for the new StorageTek Oracle Powderhorn robot. The new robot increases the total holding capacity from 50TB to approximately 336TB, and increases the number of tape exchanges from 360 per hour to 450 per hour. For the past 3 years IRIS has been keeping all the archived data on StorageTek’s Redwood (or D3) media, but now will be moving all the data off the D3 technology as it is reaching End of Life. IRIS chose StorageTek’s new 9940 technology to replace the existing D3’s.

The weekend swapout of the Wolfcreek was carefully planned by StorageTek, the University of Washington’s facility personnel, and DMC staff. Much work had to be done to prepare the site for the new, much larger robot. First all the existing server racks had to be moved to new locations and recabled. Then the electricians, plumbers, and fire safety personnel all did their parts by adding and moving electrical outlets, piping, lighting, and fire suppression and sensing equipment. Finally, 6 technicians from StorageTek worked in 2 shifts each day disassembling the old Wolfcreek robot and building the new Powderhorn robot from the floor up.

A look inside the silo
Figure 2: A look inside the silo

The new robot is approximately 11 feet in diameter, 8 feet tall, has a 2-handed robotic arm, approximately 5800 tape slots, and 8 tape drives (easily expandable to 20, 9940 tape drives). Both hands have cameras for reading bar codes and provide output to 2 video monitors, allowing visual monitoring of the robots operation.

All in all, the weekend was a great success. Everyone pulled together and performed a very difficult task in near record breaking time. We expect the new Powderhorn robot will provide IRIS with faster more reliable access to our data holdings, and keep things running smoothly into the future.

[Photo credit: UCAR]

by Rick Braman (IRIS Data Management Center)

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