Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum

Tames decades of documents and video with EMC Clariion and Nexsan SATAbeast

February 4, 2006

3 Min Read
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Driven more by remembrance than compliance, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum is in the process of digitizing up to a half-Pbyte of data ranging from decades-old documents to newly shot video.

Yad Vashems 45-acre Jerusalem campus on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem houses museums, monuments, and research facilities containing documents that Yad Vashem wants to eventually make available on its Website.

Besides hundreds of millions of pages of documents already in its archives that must go online, CIO Michael Lieber says Yad Vashem’s staff is videotaping up to four testimonies a day from Holocaust survivors and their families.

“Our mission is to get information about the Holocaust to as wide an audience as possible,” Lieber says. “Yad Vashem wants to convey what happened in the Holocaust to future generations with tools that are relevant to younger people. They can look at videos of people telling stories of what happened to them instead of just getting dry facts.”

According to Lieber, Yad Vashem put about three million documents online over the past year, but is hardly making a dent in the materials the institute plans to digitize. Vashem is about to start digitizing video around the clock, and Lieber estimates that process alone will require 5.5 Tbytes of storage per month.To keep up, Vashem will soon upgrade its EMC CX 600 SAN system to a CX 700 and it just added two 21-Tbyte Nexsan SATAbeast systems. (See Nexsan SATABeast Roars .) Lieber uses one SATABeast to do disk backups from Clariion before archiving to an IBM tape library. The other SATAbeast provides storage for a video-on-demand system for Yad Vashem’s Visual Center at the museum.

While Yad Vashem has tremendous storage capacity needs, it generates little revenue from its archives and relies on donations to keep going.

“We’re not an enormous corporation, but we eat up storage at a fast rate,” Lieber explains. “A CIO is always under pressure to lower cost and get a return on investment. For me, there’s no return on investment. I’m just spending money. Our mission is not to make money. To go digital with that amount of data, four or five years ago we’d be talking about spending millions of dollars. Now the price is viable.”

That’s where the SATABeast comes in. Lieber will continue to use Clariion for its databases, Exchange, and financial applications but wanted a cheaper secondary storage tier. He considered EMC’s Centera content addressable storage (CAS) system for archiving, until a partner tipped him off about Nexsan.

The USC Shoah Visual History Foundation established by Steven Spielberg gave Vasham a copy of taped testimonies it already digitized. The foundation used SATABeast to archive data, and its CIO Sam Gustman recommended it to Lieber.At $1,000 per Tbyte, Lieber estimates his SATABeast cost about one-quarter the price of EMC Centera without giving up performance. He believes that much of the Centera cost comes from services to get it up and running. With Nexsan, Lieber could skip the services -- although it required more work on the part of his staff.

“We bought Nexsan because we need faster machines and machines which can do all the fancy stuff such as snapshots and so on. But if you don’t know anything about storage, it’s not the first thing I’d buy. You need tech guys who are savvy and can set it up. It’s not the system to learn on.”

Nexsan claims other cost savings come from its MAID (massive array of idle disks) architecture, similar to technology Copan Systems first rolled out in 2004. (See Copan Sweeps Up $25M and Copan Takes Aim at Tape.) In a MAID system, disks sit idle, except during read and write operations. The idea is to save power as well as wear and tear on the drives.

Lieber thinks it’s too soon to know how many failed drives MAID will save him, and he didn’t consider it a selling point anyway. “It wasn’t a main issue when we bought it. But it was nice to discover.”

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and SwitchOrganizations mentioned in this article:

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