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University of Oxford

The Medical Sciences Division at the University of Oxford is beginning to see the benefit of installing virtualization software -- particularly useful, it turns out, when you are trying to store thousands of human genes.

The clinical school at Oxford is home to the Center of Human Genetics and has played an important role in helping to identify all the approximately 30,000 genes in human DNA and determine the sequences of the 3 billion chemical base pairs that make up human DNA.

"These experiments in gene research take a huge amount of data so our storage requirements are greater than other departments at the university," says Tim Shaw, deputy director for systems and networking at the Clinical School. To be precise, he says that's 2.5 terabytes in total and doubling every two years.

The Clinical School includes 15 research departments representing the various branches of medicine plus an additional 300 postgraduate medical students for a total of 4,000 students and staff. Supporting all these students are two full time systems staff and five tech support personnel. "That's not many," says Shaw.

Nevertheless, until recently the department was coping fine with the growth of its storage, but things started to go amiss when it needed to ramp up fast for a new project.

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