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TTU News

Online data storage doubles almost every nine months in this country due to an ever-growing demand for networked information services, so Tennessee Tech University professor Xubin (Ben) He’s award-winning research addresses the need head on with a more efficient, reliable storage system.

He has been named TTU's 2005 Sigma Xi research award winner for his paper, "STICS, SCSI-to-IP Cache for Storage Area Networks," published in a 2004 issue of the Journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing, considered one of the best journals in its field.
He’s work takes place in the Storage Technology and Architecture Research Laboratory, or STAR lab, where seven average desktop computers and two servers make up a powerful cluster that allows him and his graduate students to research data storage.

“Data storage plays an essential role in today’s fast growing, data-intensive network services,” said He, an assistant electrical and computer engineering professor. “Overwhelmingly the information technology community is turning to this type of storage networking because it is efficient and secure.

“Security will be the most pressing issue in data storage in the long run,” he said. “These issues are harder to solve because of the volume of data and the hardware and software challenges.”

At the STAR lab, He introduced a three-level hierarchy of storage that reduces the bottleneck and increases speed, reliability and security of the data transfer process.
Working with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, he introduced this “multi-layer, distributed shared IP storage system” that features a small storage level for retrieval of frequently accessed data, an intermediate larger level for cache and an even larger storage area for backup data.

“Think of trying to find your keys in a small house as opposed to a large house,” said He. “The small the area you have to search, the more quickly you will find what you are looking for. We are dealing with the same concept in data storage.”
Security issues that can be solved by this type of storage include those of government, communication and financial networks that must remain secure during times of crisis.

“These systems are very tolerant of disaster because they allow you to communicate with servers located in different geographical locations connected by an Ethernet connection,” He explained. “For instance, if a city is destroyed in a natural disaster such as a tsunami, the data would be backed up remotely at a different location and you could recover it online without any problems.”

He’s research was supported by the Center for Manufacturing Research and by a faculty research grant through TTU’s Research Office. As one of the nation’s most promising junior faculty members, He was named a 2004 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award recipient for his data storage research.

Sigma Xi is an international scientific research society. Each year, the Tennessee Tech chapter recognizes excellent scientific research by one faculty member for a research paper published or accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed, professional journal.
Last year’s award winner was Chris Brown, assistant professor of biology.