LIGO Caltech relies on Nexsan and Westlake Technologies

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) Caltech has standardised on Nexsan’s E-Series  and BEAST solutions to store more than 6.4 PB of research data to discover the gravitational waves of the merger of two black holes. The LIGO research project confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity.




The LIGO observatories, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) were conceived, built and are operated by Caltech and MIT to prove Einstein’s theory. The theory was so radical at the time it has taken 100 years to devise a way to develop, test, analyse and measure the physical reality of gravitational waves to prove it. The research project to confirm Einstein’s general theory of relativity takes precise measurements, and massive volumes of data comprised of more than 1.7 Billion files of raw instrument data and analytics processing information, all contained in a central data archive.

For large, data-intensive processing like this, a storage solution that delivers high performance, capacity and reliability was critical. To meet the high-volume storage needs of the LIGO project, Caltech turned to its strategic partner, [exsan%2520Storage%2520Selected%2520by%2520Caltech%2520in%2520Support%2520of%2520]Westlake Technologies Inc. (WTI). WTI recommended Nexsan storage solutions for their high efficiency and reliability.

“Nexsan delivers one of the most robust storage portfolios to achieve the innovative storage, protection and management of valuable data,” said Jennifer Manzano, CEO, Westlake Technologies Inc. “The Nexsan E-Series and BEAST storage solutions are total workhorses, with the long-term value Caltech needs for its data intensive research projects. We’ve deployed over 26 PB of Nexsan solutions for Caltech’s research operations over the course of nine years and all are still going strong.”

For the Caltech LIGO implementation, Nexsan E-Series and BEAST storage systems were installed. The Nexsan systems are used as the block storage devices that hook into the Caltech data archive which stores volumes of raw instrument data and analytics information. The Nexsan E-Series storage solutions can be deployed with a mix and match of HDDs and SSDs to optimise Caltech’s capacity, performance and cost requirements. The Nexsan BEAST storage systems offer Caltech capacity optimisation for high reliability at an affordable price.

Today, Caltech continues to achieve new levels of storage performance and reliability with its Nexsan solutions, boosting their storage ROI with scaling capacity and controlled infrastructure and energy costs. The research organisation expects to continue to leverage the high value of Nexsan storage solutions as they explore other cataclysmic events in distant universes.

“The discovery of the gravitational waves from the merger of two black holes opens a new window on the universe by beginning the era of observational gravitational-wave astronomy,” said Stuart B. Anderson, Senior Research Scientist, LIGO Caltech. “We will continue to improve the sensitivity of the LIGO instruments and probe ever further out into the Universe. Nexsan and Westlake will be with us on this ongoing exploration of colliding black holes, neutron stars and hopefully many other exciting unexpected discoveries.”

“It’s an honor to be a part of such a scientifically historical achievement in LIGO’s proven discovery of colliding black holes,” said Geraldine Osman, Vice President International Marketing, Nexsan. “The high volume and intensity of data use for this research project was nothing short of awe-striking. Nexsan storage is ideally suited for this type of high volume data application. With a mix of the high-performance unified Nexsan E-Series storage and the affordable reliability of Nexsan BEAST storage systems, Caltech had the perfect storage environment to power their demanding research needs.”


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