Winning Contractor: NetApp helps NIF focus on the science - (Archived)

NetApp is known for creating storage and data management solutions that are cost effective and help their clients achieve their mission. The National Ignition Facility Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (NIF) is just one example of NetApp in action. NIF tasked NetApp to help optimize access to scientific applications while providing high availability for storage of data captured from scientific instrumentation. NetApp answered the challenge by migrating them to NetApp® clustered Data ONTAP® and using NetApp Flash PoolTM to accelerate performance for Oracle® virtual machines.

Due to the size, nature, and criticality of its research, NIF must avoid system downtime whenever practical. Each time the laser is fired at a target, nonrelational object data produced by scientific instruments (about 50TB per year) is captured in files on network-attached storage, which must be accessible at any time for physicists to analyze. Algorithms then generate representations of the x-rays, plasmas, and other scientific phenomena that are stored as relational data in Oracle databases.

Like many facilities, the IT team at NIF used scheduled maintenance windows to perform tasks such as the movement of data and reallocation of volumes. But they wanted to find a technology that did not require them to use downtime for storage management activities.

The NetApp solution offered NIF several benefits to help them meet their mission:

  • Accommodate scientific experiments 24/7, accelerating time to discovery
  • Establish a global namespace for seamless workload mobility
  • Eliminate up to 60 hours of planned downtime annually, maximizing facility availability
  • Meet throughput requirements efficiently with strategic use of flash storageWith clustered Data ONTAP, monthly maintenance outages for storage activities are no longer required, removing a temporary barrier between scientists and results.

“Now when we need to do maintenance, we can just fail the workload over from one member of the cluster to another. Our UNIX® system administrators don’t even notice. When you consider the amount of people time involved, and the value of that time to our facility, reclaiming up to five hours a month from planned downtime is worth a lot to us, our sponsors, and the country. We don’t anticipate needing outages for storage anymore, and that’s 60 hours a year we can give back to science,” said Tim Frazier CIO, National Ignition Facility and Photon Sciences Principal Associate Directorate, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

“Our achievements represent the contributions of our operations and scientific staff as well as our technology partners,” says Frazier. “Big science is done by smart people, but our success also depends upon having strong partnerships with innovative and committed technology providers.”

NetApp’s partnership with NIF has earned them a winning contractor commendation. Read more about this project.


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