UM, Bloomfield Firm In Data Storage Partnership

BLOOMIFELD TWP. — Officials at the Bloomfield Township-based software developer Yottabyte announced a new partnership with the University of Michigan for flexible cloud storage for complex computational analyses of sensitive and restricted data.

The Yottabyte Research Cloud will provide scientists high performance, secure and flexible computing environments that enable the analysis of sensitive data sets restricted by federal privacy laws, proprietary access agreements, or confidentiality requirements.


The company said that previously, the complexity of building secure and project-specific IT platforms often made the computational analysis of sensitive data prohibitively costly and time consuming.

Brahmajee Nallamothu, professor of internal medicine, tested a pilot installation of the Yottabyte Research Cloud at the UM Institute of Healthcare Policy and Innovation for his research on such topics as predictors of opioid use after surgery and the costs and uses of cancer screenings under the Affordable Care Act.

“We recently moved a healthcare claims database, which is multiple terabytes in size and requires a great deal of memory and fast storage to process, onto the pilot platform,” Nallamothu said. “The platform allows us to immediately increase or decrease computing resources to meet demand while permitting multiple users to access the data safely and remotely. Our previous setup relied on network storage and self-managed hardware, which was extremely inefficient compared to what we can do now.”

Added Eric Michielssen, associate vice president for advanced research computing at UM: “The Yottabyte Research Cloud will improve research productivity by reducing the cost and time required to create the individualized, secure computing platforms that are increasingly necessary to support scientific discovery in the age of big data.”

And Yottabyte CEO Paul E. Hodges III said: “With the Yottabyte Research Cloud, researchers will be able to ask more questions, faster, of the ever-expanding and massive sets of data collected for their work. This partnership is a great opportunity to develop and refine computing tools that will increase the productivity of UM’s world class researchers.”

Many UM scientists are working on a variety of research projects that could benefit from use of the Yottabyte Research Cloud:

* healthcare research, for example in precision medicine, often requires working with sensitive patient information and large volumes of diverse data types. This research can yield results that positively impact patients’ lives, but often involves the analysis of millions of clinical observations that can include genomic, hospital, outpatient, pharmaceutical, laboratory and cost data. This requires a secure high performance computing ecosystem coupled to massive amounts of multi-tiered storage.
* In the social sciences, UM research requires secure, remote access to sensitive research data about substance abuse, mental health, and other topics.
* Transportation researchers who mine large and sensitive datasets — for example, a 24-terabyte dataset that includes videos of drivers’ faces and GPS traces of their journeys — also stand to benefit from the security features and computing power.
* In learning analytics, studies of the persistence of teacher effects on student learning could benefit from the enclaves to store and analyze data that includes observational measures scored from classroom videos, and elementary and middle school students’ scores on standardized tests.
* Researchers in brain science will be able to use the Yottabyte Research Cloud to investigate a wide range of topics including  the effects of aging on brain function and structure and how we focus our attention in the presence of distraction.

The Yottabyte Research Cloud is UM’s first foray into software-defined infrastructure for research, allowing on-the-fly personalized configuration of any-scale computing resources, which promises to change the way traditional IT infrastructure systems are deployed across the research community.

More about Yottabyte at http://www.yottabyte.com. More about the Yottabyte Research Cloud at http://arc-ts.umich.edu/yrc.

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