iCER Nets Part of $5 Million Big Data Grant

Oct. 2, 2015 — Michigan State University is teaming up with four higher education institutes to create a new high-speed cyberinfrastructure. The Multi-Institutional Open Storage Research Infrastructure (MI-OSiRIS) will enable researchers at MSU, the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, Indiana University and the Van Andel Research Institute to collaborate their efforts and share their research with unprecedented ease.

“MI-OSiRIS will be transformative in enabling shared projects between universities,” said Kennie Merz, Director of MSU’s Institute for Cyber-Enabled Research. “Researchers have an ever-increasing need for rapid access to large amounts of data, often from colleagues who are working hundreds or even thousands of miles away. MI-OSiRIS will improve the transfer rates between sites and improve the ability for researchers to share vast quantities of data.”

Dr. Merz will help coordinate MSU’s $1 million portion of the $5 million MI-OSiRIS grant, which was awarded by the National Science Foundation. MI-OSiRIS will break new ground in data storage and networking by utilizing advanced data storage software and hardware to open up new frequencies on the existing high-speed network. The project will test the effectiveness of so-called software defined storage coupled with advanced networking. This will allow relatively inexpensive, off-the-shelf hard drives to be programmed with intelligent software. This can automatically manage data in ways that make it easier to copy, analyze, change, search and share.

“Direct access to data between sister institutions will improve efficiency,” said Wayne State University’s research spokesman Patrick Gossman. “This will eliminate hours or even days lost copying massive files from one place to another. The result will be improved research productivity in health, aging, the environment and other areas important to us all.”

Many scientific fields can produce fire hoses of data, but we haven’t kept pace with the infrastructure to make analyzing it trivial or even transparent, said Shawn McKee, a research scientist in physics in the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science and the Arts.

“Improved connectivity will allow bioinformaticians and biostatisticians to analyze and deliver results more efficiently and effectively, ultimately allowing researchers to develop and test more hypotheses at the bench,” said Mary Winn, VARI’s Bioinformatics and Biostatistics Core Manager. "The impacts on human disease brought about by enhanced data-sharing and improved collaborative efforts could be transformative.”

MI-OSiRIS fits nicely with the expansion in the computational sciences at MSU represented by iCER and the recent announcement of the formation of the Computational, Mathematics, Science and Engineering (CMSE) department.

“Enhanced networking and data storage will significantly enhance the ability of CMSE researchers to simultaneously perform and collaborate on community-centric data intensive projects,” said Brian O’Shea, CMSE graduate director.

Given MSU’s substantial investment in the computational sciences, MI-OSiRIS will enable novel, data-driven science efforts between MSU and its partner institutions, he added.