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LSU Raises Storage Bar

While people were evacuating Louisiana after hurricane Katrina hit in August, Louisiana State University's high-performance computing (HPC) staff was reporting for duty to support emergency services.

The Baton Rouge campus became the center of emergency operations for the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Red Cross, and other relief groups in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

LSU was officially shut down, but that didn’t pertain to my staff,” LSU’s director of HPC Brian Ropers-Huilman says. “We had to keep our machines running. Our facilities have our own generator and backup chiller, so as long as we could keep diesel coming into the campus, we were up and running. We were the last person standing.”

But power wasn’t the only thing FEMA required. It needed networked storage, too.

“We had to provide them networking services, storage services, and computational services,” Ropers-Huilman says. “One of first things FEMA wanted was storage. They wanted to archive locally all aerial photography taken of the affected coast. They were receiving mapping data and needed to marry it up with various other data. I did not have the capacity that FEMA wanted, so I turned to some of the storage providers that I had already been using for a quick quote.”

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