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University of Manchester

Being very satisfied with these products and especially the customer support provided, it was natural to scale up to bigger Synology devices. Dr. Simon J. Melhuish, Jodrell Bank Center for Astrophysics

The Company

Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics is a part of the University of Manchester School of Physics and Astronomy. A 250-foot radio telescope at Jodrell Bank dominates the Cheshire landscape from miles around. The Advanced Technology Group at JBCA develops technology, mostly with application to radio astronomy, in the areas of nano-technology, low-noise microwave/millimetre-wave receivers and cryogenics.

The Challenge

Aside from normal activities aimed at gathering radio waves from distant astronomical sources, Jordrell Bank Center is embarking on a new experiment which will attempt to detect very high frequency gravitational waves and visible light photons using a very sensitive CCD camera in conjunction with an image intensifier. As the system will record 10 frames a second of mega-pixel resolution, it's expected to generate about 1 terabyte of data each month, which needs to be stored and backed-up reliably. It costs a lot to develop and run a system like this, so it is vital that the hard-won data should not evaporate due to a disk crash.

The Solution

For several years Dr. Melhuish and his team have used Synology CubeStation for general file storage (documentation, images, experimental measurements, etc). "Being very satisfied with these products and especially the customer support provided, it was natural to scale up to bigger Synology devices," said Dr. Melhuish. For the gravitational wave experiment, the team has chosen a DS1512+ to be dedicated to it. As for the general storage needs a DS411 will be in place to improve overall performance and the data are backed-up to an external USB hard disk and a CubeStation.

Upgrading to the more recent devices has brought new features with DSM, the operating system for all Synology NAS servers, as well as larger storage space. Of particular importance is the Cloud Station application. This makes it easy for Dr. Melhuish and his fellow researchers to share data with external collaborators, and even to staffs' iPhones and iPads. Using QuickConnect makes it especially easy to load up the DiskStation in a short time. The upgrade enables more than one share folder to be accessed, which allows the research team to transparently access their personal as well as the shared directories.

As with other features on DSM, the Network Backup application is found to be very useful. This very easily allows mirroring of data to other Synology devices, without needing to get into the minutiae of the rsync command line. "We set this to run every night, following a USB backup of the backup server. So with three copies of everything, including two on RAID, we are pretty much "bomb-proof," said Dr. Melhuish. The 5-bay chassis of the DS1512+ is substantially constructed, which allows disks to be removed easily from the front, once the time comes for another upgrade. Dr. Melhuish has expressed that as the research team collects more and more data from their experiments they will certainly want to grow the system. With Synology's expansion unit, storage space can be easily expanded up to 60TB capacity to store all the experiment data in the long run.

Recommended Models

  • DS1512+
  • DS411

Recommended Features

  • Synology Cloud Station
  • Backup Solution
  • QuickConnect
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