IBM, DESY Partner on Big Data for Science

The Big Data and Analytics architecture based on IBM software defined technology can handle more than 20 gigabyte per second of data at peak performance.

health it and big data

Technology giant IBM announced it is collaborating with Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY), a national research center in Germany, to speed up management and storage of massive volumes of X-ray data.

The organization’s 1.7 mile-long PETRA III accelerator is a microscope that speeds up electrically charged particles nearly to the speed of light – approximately 186,000 miles per second – and sends them through a tight magnetic slalom course to generate X-ray radiation.

The planned Big Data and Analytics architecture based on IBM software defined technology can handle more than 20 gigabyte per second of data at peak performance.

At DESY, Petra III research is carried on fundamental chemical, biological and medical problems. PETRA III can analyze crystals much smaller than one micrometer across and is being used to analyze miniscule particles like delicate bio-molecules.

The organization built and operates a bright X-ray source the PETRA III. With it, scientists have been able to take X-ray images of things at a molecular level that have never before been observed and are starting to use these discoveries to solve some of the world's long-standing medical challenges.

Housed in Hamburg and Zeuthen in Germany and home to 3,000 scientists from more than 40 countries a year, DESY is one of the world's leading accelerator centers and a member of the Helmholtz Association.

It develops, builds and operates large particle accelerators used to investigate the structure of matter, and the synchrotron radiation is used by more than 2,000 scientists each year to examine the internal structure of a variety of materials with atomic resolution.

The organization is working with IBM to address the storage of huge volumes of X-ray data through the IBM Research and IBM Software Defined Storage technology code name Elastic Storage, which can scale to store and handle more than 20 gigabytes of data flowing every second from PETRA III.

Elastic Storage can provide scientists with high-speed access to increasing volumes of research data, and will allow DESY to develop an open ecosystem for research and offer analysis as a service and cloud solutions to its users worldwide.

However, analyzing crystals even smaller than one micrometer is not easy. Cameras in PETRA III take high-speed snapshots, for instance, of rotating samples from all sides and record the measurements.

"This creates massive data management challenges for DESY and its hundreds of scientists who demand quick access to the huge volumes of images," Dr. Volker Gülzow, head of DESY IT department, told eWEEK. "Elastic Storage, which spreads information across multiple storage systems and through the cloud, making it easy to find, store and even manage massive amounts of data, not just for scientists in Germany, but around the world."

Gülzow said this makes health care research more accessible to health care companies that can submit research proposals to DESY and utilize PETRA III beams to conduct research. Elastic Storage also provides quick access to data and supports much higher resolutions of the probes.

For customers who need to adhere to HIPPA and Sarbanes-Oxley, Elastic Storage provides encryption of data at rest and enable HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, EU, and various national data privacy laws compliance, he added.