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Midwest Big Data Hub and National Data Service partner with NSF for nationwide Open Storage Network

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced a $1.8 million grant to establish an Open Storage Network (OSN) to support big data research across the U.S. The Midwest Big Data Hub (MBDH) and the National Data Service (NDS), hosted at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will be partnering in the venture and launch the initial Midwest node.

The OSN will establish a robust storage network that will leverage and amplify existing investments including national and regional science networks like XSEDE and the National Data Service.

“Along with launching the node at NCSA, the MBDH will add a Community Liaison position to facilitate user support for Big Data researchers in the Midwest and West Hubs,” said Melissa Cragin, Executive Director of the Midwest Big Data Hub. “Adding this user-oriented ‘bridge’ role at the launch of the OSN is significant, and we anticipate that this will help us gather early feedback from various disciplinary communities.”

After its establishment as part of the Illinois node, the OSN will be able to provide a community liaison to support Big Data Hub research communities, provide an interface between MBDH OSN users, and help connect scientists to storage solutions that fit their scope and needs.

In addition to the MBDH’s involvement, the NDS, also housed at NCSA, will provide technical expertise to prevent bottlenecks.

“The MBDH identifies partners, novel use cases, datasets and unmet needs, especially where there is need to span multiple sectors, e.g. government and academia. The NDS examines requirements and pain points for possible technical solutions,” said Christine Kirkpatrick, Executive Director of the National Data Service. “MBDH is an outreach arm for the region. NDS draws in technical expertise and a novel sliver of the nation’s cyberinfrastructure community. Given NDS’s roots at NCSA and SDSC, we’ve always tested our hypothesis against large-scale issues not addressed by readily available solutions.”

In addition to connecting researchers to this national storage network, the OSN will also provide resources to broaden participation in the big data realm in a similar fashion to the NSF’s XSEDE project—researchers who do not have access to large-scale data storage solutions will be able to join forces with the OSN, allowing groundbreaking research to be possible where it was previously not.

Ultimately, the OSN should provide a national resource that both increases the efficiency of big data storage and research while also creating robust cyberinfrastructure to expand the United States’ big data workforce.

Read the full NSF press release.

About NCSA

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides supercomputing and advanced digital resources for the nation’s science enterprise. At NCSA, University of Illinois faculty, staff, students, and collaborators from around the globe use advanced digital resources to address research grand challenges for the benefit of science and society. NCSA has been advancing one third of the Fortune 50® for more than 30 years by bringing industry, researchers, and students together to solve grand challenges at rapid speed and scale.

About MBDH

The Midwest Big Data Hub (MBDH) is one of four regional Big Data (BD) Innovation Hubs launched in 2015 with support from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF award #1550320). Based at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, the MBDH has four “satellite” sites at Indiana University, Iowa State University, the University of Michigan, and the University of North Dakota, and a growing network of academic, industry, and non-governmental partners. The MBDH serves twelve states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. More information can be found at

About the National Data Service

The National Data Service is an emerging vision of how scientists and researchers across all disciplines can find, reuse, and publish data. It is an international federation of data providers, data aggregators, community-specific federations, publishers, and cyberinfrastructure providers. It builds on the data archiving and sharing efforts underway within specific communities and links them together with a common set of tools.

In the United States, we seek to assemble a national infrastructure of distributed storage, production services, and a framework that connects together the rich array of repositories, tools, and other resources from many domains and communities; this is operational system is what we call the National Data Service. The design, construction, and operation of system is to be community-driven through the National Data Service Consortium. Our international partners, particularly the Research Data Alliance, will help us to ensure transparent access data from around the world.

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