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ICM Brain and Spine Institute selects Western Digital to update its storage infrastructure

Storage Technology
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Western Digital announced that the Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle Épinière (ICM Brain and Spine Institute), an international brain and spinal cord research center, selected Western Digital to upgrade its storage infrastructure with the extremely fast, efficient and flexible OpenFlex™ open composable platform. Leveraging NVMe over Fabrics™ (NVMe-oF™), ICM has more extensive access to shared storage, which can be easily allocated to satisfy the need for researchers or departments. ICM also now has quicker access to critical data and the ability to resize and reallocate storage volumes on demand, assisting in the fight against neurological disorders.

Scientists at ICM need to capture and analyze patient data from an array of clinical imaging tools and across different labs. Researchers have been hampered by an aging data storage infrastructure that could not keep pace with their needs. The latest advanced microscopy instruments can generate up to two terabytes of data every hour, which is far more than each workstation’s local storage can accommodate. This has created long delays at each step in the analysis pipeline, where scientists had to wait on the storage infrastructure to continue their work.

ICM worked with its technology partner, 2CRSi, to identify a new storage innovation that could provide the perfect combination of performance and flexibility, selecting Western Digital’s OpenFlex Composable Disaggregated Infrastructure. OpenFlex provides ICM with ultra-fast storage performance within a more efficient and flexible architecture, allowing scientists to continually push their work forward without having to wait for storage. For ICM’s IT department, OpenFlex means no longer having to squeeze in local storage close to workstations, or manually move storage around campus as projects change. Instead, they can distribute storage capacity over ICM’s Ethernet network wherever and whenever it’s needed, without sacrificing performance.

Kurt Chan, vice president and general manager, Data Center Platforms at Western Digital said, “Today’s clinical workloads require fast, and highly reliable storage solutions to store massive amounts of research and patient data. As the clarity and resolution of clinical imaging increases, more bioimages need to be centrally stored to accelerate evaluations and diagnostics. Our OpenFlex open composable solution provides easy access to these large bioimaging files in near real-time, helping to speed up time to discovery of critical cures and treatment options.”

“Our scientists don’t want to worry about storage technology or IT infrastructure, and with OpenFlex, they don’t have to,” said Caroline Vidal, CTO at ICM. “We can provide fast, low-latency access to imaging data, in up to four times the resolution than researchers could work with before. The shared storage with NVMe-oF is just there when they need it, so they can focus on using the data and advancing their research.”

The benefits of Western Digital OpenFlex for ICM include:

  • Breakthrough performance comparable to locally attached storage: Researchers can now access high-performance storage in various capacities, at the maximum throughput that ICM’s 50-gigabit/second Ethernet links can deliver. The solution also assures the low latencies needed when working with high-resolution image files—ICM reported 34 microseconds or less for most storage operations.
  • Faster time to discovery: OpenFlex performance has a direct impact on ICM researchers’ lifesaving work, eliminating delays and interruptions in the analysis pipeline. ICM scientists can analyze and verify more clinical images per day, in up to 4x the resolution than was possible before, and quickly retrieve archived datasets when needed. As a result, they can advance their understanding of neurological disease processes and develop novel therapies more quickly.
  • Architectural flexibility: With OpenFlex, ICM’s IT team can quickly and easily allocate storage to meet any researcher’s need and resize and reallocate storage volumes on demand. This flexibility is essential as the institute adds more microscopes and other instruments in the coming years, continually driving up the resolutions and volumes of clinical imaging data.
  • Efficient, cost-effective operation: With storage centralized in the data center over a fabric, ICM’s IT team can manage the solution much better. Maintenance and software updates now require even less time and effort—a significant operational saving compared to managing dozens of storage servers distributed across the campus. In assition, because storage is centralized, any new microscopes added can use the same pool of capacity, eliminating the ongoing capital expense of deploying more local storage for each new device.
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