South Big Data Hub partners on development of new nationwide data storage network under NSF grant

The Open Storage Network will enable researchers to manage data more efficiently than ever before.


The South Big Data Hub is one of four regional big data hub partners awarded a $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the initial development of a data storage network over the next two years. A collaborative team will combine their expertise, facilities, and research challenges to develop the Open Storage Network (OSN). The OSN will enable academic researchers across the nation to work with and share their data more efficiently than ever before, according to the NSF announcement. 

The project, led by Alex Szalay of Johns Hopkins University in the South Hub region, leverages key data storage partners throughout the U.S. These partners include the National Data Service and members representing each of the four NSF-funded Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs (BD Hubs): the South Big Data Hub at the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) and the Georgia Institute of Technology, the West Big Data Hub at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), the Midwest Big Data Hub at the National Center for Supercomputer Applications (NCSA), and the Northeast Big Data Hub at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC) and Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC).

Christine Kirkpatrick, executive director of the National Data Service and co-chair of the Big Data Hubs’ Data Sharing and Cyberinfrastructure Working Group, anticipates that the OSN will provide the technical connecting fabric that the working group has needed to join use cases brought forward by the hubs’ government, academic, non-profit, and industry partners. 

“There are hundreds of issues to solve before we have a ‘datanet’ as efficient and cooperatively well organized as the internet,” Kirkpatrick said. “But just as there are many complexities to solve in the long-term, these solutions can be facilitated by the simplest of additions – here the establishment of a connected storage network. Sharing, reproducibility, replication, and data management all fundamentally rely on a place to store data.”

NSF’s investment in the OSN builds on a seed grant by Schmidt Futures — a philanthropic initiative founded by former Google Chairman Eric Schmidt — to enable the data transfer systems for the new network. These systems are designed to be low-cost, high-throughput, large-capacity, and capable of matching the speed of a 100-gigabit network connection with only a small number of nodes. This configuration will help to ensure that OSN can eventually be deployed in many universities across the U.S. to leverage prior investments and establish sustainable management for the overall storage network.

About the South Big Data Hub

The South Big Data Innovation Hub is a research coordination network that catalyzes and strengthens public-private partnerships to apply data science and analytics to scientific, societal, and economic challenges important to the region and the nation. The South Hub is one network out of four hubs across the country, launched by NSF in partnership with our host institutions, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Georgia Tech.​

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