Advanced Research Computing


RDSS Copperplate

Last Updated 2023-03-15

The Research Data Storage Service (RDSS) is UCL’s multi-petabyte scale manged storage solution, designed for data hosting during the active phase of a research project and meeting the requirements of the major research funders. It provides cost-effective resilient data storage replicated between two physical data halls at the Virtus data centre in Slough, so that if there is a problem with one side of the service, it can be rapidly ‘failed over’ to the other. Data is stored using high-performance IBM Spectrum Scale technology (also known as General Parallel File System (GPFS)). The storage hardware is actively monitored, and refreshed every 5-6 years, with data seamlessly migrated to newer hardware.

The Slough data centre has a number of ISO certifications, including ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO20000, ISO 27001 and ISO 50001.

Data on the RDSS is backed up on a daily basis to tape storage in one of UCL’s local data centres, with a 30-day retention period.

RDSS access is via centrally-managed user authentication (UCL’s Single Sign-On mechanism), and fine-grained read/write permissions can be configured within RDSS project spaces. External Collaborators may also be granted access by the Principal Investigator. Project metadata is recorded to enable project searching and to reduce the risk of orphaned data, and full-lifecycle data management is facilitated via integration with UCL’s Research Data Repository (https://rdr.ucl.ac.uk/).

Data that needs to be retained beyond the end of a research project and which cannot be published is retained on the service without further charge. UCL are developing an archive tier to enable more cost-effective long-term data retention in the future.

The RDSS networking includes redundant high speed links back to both the Bloomsbury campus and UCL East so that researchers can reliably access their data. A new externally-facing high-speed network designed for secure data transfers to/from other institutions to help collaborations will be launched during 2023. We are continuously working to improve our connectivity further, with plans for improved connections  to our High Performance Computing systems planned for later this year.

The RDSS is intended as a centrally-managed and cost effective replacement for local departmental storage on NAS drives. It is supported by a team of data management professionals who deal with monitoring, failovers, back ups, hardware migration, and metadata management, saving departmental staff time and ensuring best-practice research data management.

Current information about usage and policies relating the RDSS can be found at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/advanced-research-computing/platforms-and-services/research-data-storage-service

The RDSS is not certified to host sensitive data. We recommend that non-encrypted identifiable data is instead hosted in UCL’s Data Safe Haven (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/isd/services/file-storage-sharing/data-safe-haven-dsh)

A guide to other data storage options provided by UCL is available at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/isd/sites/isd/files/ucl_data_storage_options.pdf

Please note that whilst the use of data storage solutions such as Network-Attached Storage (NAS) boxes may seem cheaper than the RDSS, they lack the resilience offered by central storage solutions and require significant staff overhead if data is to be managed and maintained to the standards offered by the RDSS and expected by research funders such as UKRI.