Penn Medicine Academic Computing Services Newsletter

PMACS IS Quarterly Newsletter


HPC Statistics
  • CPU Hours —  367,948
  • Disk Activity (TB) — 2,148
  • Archive Activity (TB) — 886
  • Total Number of Users — 603
LIMS Statistics 
  • Total Number of Users — 261
  • Total Samples — 687,034
CTMS Statistics
  • Total Studies – 3,753
  • Total Subjects – 94,645
  • Total Active Accounts - 445
Customer Service Group (CSG) Tickets
  • Total Tickets –  1,747
  • Total Support Hours – 3,285

Technology Initiatives


Data Center Changes

Like most of the university, the Perelman School has used the 3401 Walnut Street data center, managed by Penn’s Information Systems and Computing (ISC) division, for many years.  PMACS manages over 750 servers and 3 PB of information in this location that currently serves as our primary data center.

Recently, the university and ISC decided to close the 3401 Walnut Street data center and transfer operations to a newly expanded data center in the Pennovation Center.  The transition will occur in December 2018.

In light of this transition, Penn Medicine Information Services evaluated several hosting options including recently acquired data centers at Lancaster General Hospital (LGH).  Due to 1) increased computing integration with Penn Medicine as a whole 2) the availability of more redundant, higher tier data centers at LGH, Information Services decided to migrate Perelman School computing infrastructure to LGH’s Brownstown data center.  In addition to greater power and HVAC capabilities, the Brownstown facility will offer additional monitoring and administrative availability from the LGH network operations team to supplement PMACS efforts.

Two planned weekend outages will be needed to move the equipment between data centers.  These planned timeframes are currently scheduled for June 29 and September 7, 2018.   More detailed updates will be provided to impacted users via the BA and ORSS forums as well as individual client meetings scheduled by the PMACS SIOs.  Additionally, there will be a central web site for frequently asked questions and other relevant information.

Please be on the lookout for these communications.

New Service Information Officer (SIO)

The PMACS Service Information Officers (SIOs) serve as the liaisons between PMACS and the School of Medicine.  Their responsibilities include:

  • architecting information technology (IT) solutions for grant proposals or administrative needs
  • assisting with customer service
  • managing projects

We are fortunate to welcome Rick Bryson as our newest SIO.  Rick joins PMACS after most recently being the director of ancillary clinical systems for UPHS.  He has significant system support and leadership experience at Penn Medicine. Rick will be supporting several basic science and clinical departments, as well as the Office of Clinical Research (OCR).

You can contact Rick via email (


PMACS Storage and Backup Services

There are several data storage options available within the PMACS research and high-performance computing (HPC) environments.  Each are briefly described along with their respective cost models.

PMACS User Home Account
PMACS provides all supported users with a home account and a 100 GB file share allocated for work documents.  This file share is not to be used for the following:

  • Project-specific files that may need to be shared for collaborative activities.
  • Files containing intellectual property or personal identifiable information (PII). 

Backup of the home account occurs on a daily, weekly, and monthly schedule.  There is no charge for this storage.

Research “Low Cost” Storage
The low-cost storage tier provides a cheaper alternative for those who need temporary storage of a data set or do not need backups for business continuity.  Backup for this tier is only a daily snapshot, and the maximum data retention period is six months.  Unlike NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices, PMACS staff actively manage the low-cost tier.  The standard charge is $10/TB/month.

Research “Commodity” Storage
Commodity storage is the primary environment for research data. This storage is available across the PMACS supported environment and is accessible to desktops, VM servers, clusters, etc.  PMACS can tailor the storage for sponsor-specific data, intellectual property (IP) protection, HIPAA requirements, or other Data Use Agreement (DUA) specific needs.  Backup is on a daily, weekly, and monthly schedule to ensure business continuity.  This storage environment has a standard charge of $30/TB/month.

HPC Disk Storage
The HPC cluster nodes are attached to 1.8 Petabytes of IBM Storwise V7000 disk storage, housed in two separate performance tiers.  There is no backup to this storage, as it is designated for high throughput performance.  The disk is presented to the compute nodes via a ten-node IBM Scale Out Network Attached Storage (SONAS) system leveraging the IBM General Parallel File System (GPFS). This HPC storage is priced as a fee-for-use model, and clients have the ability to purchase only the storage they need, for as long as they need it while using the HPC clusters. This storage environment has a standard charge of $55/TB/month.

Archive Storage
Long-term archive storage is available to investigators wishing to maintain their research data in a cost-effective and retrievable manner. This storage is a tape-based system that is accessible via simple Mac, Windows, or Linux drive mapping. This long-term storage is priced as a fee-for-use model, and clients have the ability to purchase only the storage they need, for as long as they need it. While it is slower than archive, it has expansion capabilities into the thousands of terabytes. This storage environment has a standard charge of $15/TB/month.

PMACS-supported Storage

PMACS User Home Account  – 100GB

no charge

Research “Low Cost” Storage


Research “Commodity” Storage


HPC Disk Storage


Archive Storage


Please contact the PMACS SIOs or LSPs if you have any questions.

User Tip

Reminder – Data Backup

As discussed in prior editions of the newsletter, backups protect your data in case your device is affected by cyber-attacks like ransomware, for example. Backups are copies of your information stored somewhere other than on your computer or mobile device; they can be used to recover data in the event of device loss.

As discussed earlier, PMACS offers backup services that can be used by all faculty and staff.

If you have any questions, please contact your SIO or Information Security at

For more security-related information, visit the PMACS Information Security web page:

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