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2008-04-25

Archive and storage specialists Proact have been working on behalf of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Statens lantbruksuniversitet, or SLU) to build an archiving solution for storing images and information on all of Sweden’s flora and fauna. This solution is central to what is known as the Swedish species project, which is being implemented on behalf of the Government, with Crown Princess Victoria as its patron.

The aim of the Swedish special project is to describe all Swedish species in scientific terms: some 50 000 plants, animals and fungi, all presented in words and images, making our entire flora and fauna accessible to the general public. Over the coming 15-20 years, all this effort will culminate in a reference work comprising 120-140 books titles Nationalnyckeln till Sveriges flora och fauna, the National Guide to the Flora and Fauna of Sweden.

All information used in the production of this reference will also be available for the future in a digital archive, which will also provide the actual foundation for the efforts of the scientific editorial team on the reference work. When SLU was given the task of managing the project, it was evident that the storage solution they were using at the time would not be up to the job.

“We needed to adopt an entirely new approach to allow us to handle all that digital information. Our previous solution was based on the fact that we made regular backups, but this would not have been possible – either financially or practically – with the gigantic data volumes to be generated by the species project. But with this new solution, we can easily expand our capacity gradually as we need more storage,” says Johannes Schmidt, head of the network and server operations team at SLU.

Proact has designed and built the new, disk-based archiving solution that was commissioned at SLU in Uppsala a few months ago. The archive currently has a capacity of 12-15 terabytes, which is necessary given that the image data consists of what are known as very high-res multi-layer images.

The archiving solution is based on hardware and software from EMC and means that the information is more readily accessible and easier to search, and that expensive, time-consuming backups are a thing of the past. Security has been another priority area, and the new archive is mirrored to another location to provide protection in case of crashes.

“One enormous challenge we face with this archiving project – and indeed, most others as well – is that we have to ensure that all file types are made accessible, regardless of the software used to create them. The solution for SLU is based on a standardised interface that is open to all documents,” says Stig Hjortmar, project manager at Proact. For Proact’s part, this deal is worth SEK 2.5 million.

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