Jeff McDonald  - The Hormel Institute

Innovative Minnesota start-up company meets the need

With one of the largest needs for data storage in the state due to its bioinformatics research data and the Titan Krios cryo-electron microscopy research,

Jeff McDonald, PhD, new director of The Hormel Institute’s Information Technology department, shared news of the technology expansion.

“The amount of data storage required to meet the needs of cancer researchers at The Hormel Institute presented a very unusual challenge, and one which will only grow as The Institute grows,” said McDonald, who joined The Hormel Institute in August and was a former top leader at the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute.

“Engineering teams at Atavium took a fresh look at the data storage challenge and designed an innovative and unchained solution to those needs with cutting edge technology, data lifecycle and provenance tools and analytics to make any IT administrator exuberant about storage.  Atavium is easily on the forefront of designers.”

Atavium’s performance/price benefits are delivered through a tunable tiered architecture that combines flash, hard drives, and cloud, as well as unique data classification, analytics features, and workflow automation.

The system will support the data derived from structural biologists using the cryo-electron microscope that enables researchers to identify effective ways to administer drugs for optimal results, and bioinformatics analysis that seeks commonalities that may assist with diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Atavium enables The Hormel Institute to support the needs of its 20+ cancer research section leaders and their teams (140 faculty, researchers and staff) which includes data provenance, cost effective, long term retention of data, isolation of data by owner to protect research product, workflow automation, and compliance with data use agreements.

The storage platform consists of three main components:  zero-touch classification engine, policy orchestration engine, and the ability to deliver flash performance at archive pricing. It is designed to leverage analytics about the data combined with system state information to purposefully place data where it is needed.  The system’s unique architecture is able to deliver performance without compromising on cost or manageability at scale.

“We are extremely thankful for the Atavium system because for our scientists data storage is critically necessary – they must be able to store, access and protect their cancer research,” said McDonald.

“It is also great that Atavium is a Minnesota company – the solutions,  necessary expertise and technology all provided from our own home state is a bonus.”