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Institutional File Storage service (IFS)

Institutional File Store is a service for departments to store and share everyday documents with colleagues. This is aimed at desktop and laptop users who will have access to the storage via a mapped drive on their computer. The data is safely stored on an industry standard hardware platform in the University’s central data centres to protect against data loss.

Overview

Institutional File Store is a service for departments to store and share everyday documents with colleagues. It is aimed at desktop and laptop users who will have access to the storage via a mapped drive on their computer. 

The data is safely stored on an industry standard hardware platform in the University’s central data centres to protect against data loss. 


Audience 

The service is available to staff of University Departments and Colleges, through their local institution. 

Typical use 

The File Store service is suitable for standard files opened and closed by applications on Windows, Apple Mac, and Unix systems. On a Windows computer this would be the items you store in My Documents, My Photos, My Videos etc. 

NOTE: It is not suitable for higher performance workloads such as MS-Access databases, video editing. 

Access to the files is via a file share mapped to your computer. Local IT support staff will configure access for most users. 

The service is suitable for storing low and standard risk data.

Service features

Quota

Each School, Department or College can create storage areas each with a separate quota. The quota can be increased by purchasing additional storage via the self-service portal. Standard increases in size will be available for immediate use. 

User level quotas are not supported.

Backup

To assist with recovering files after accidental deletion, a snapshot feature will allow users to restore previous versions of files. 

Behind the scenes, the system makes an independent copy of the data to a second data centre. This is used for disaster recovery, and will be no older than 15 minutes.  

Access

Access is via a file share mapped to your computer. This will be a CIFS share which Windows, Apple Mac, and Unix systems can connect to.  NFS shares for Unix users will be available in the future. 

Username and password will use either your University password or your local department’s password, authenticated via an Active Directory. This is likely to be the same as you currently use to logon to your computer. Your local IT representative will configure access for most users and give guidance on which password to use. 

To use the fileshares you must be on the Cambridge University Data Network (CUDN) using either a wired or wireless connection within Cambridge. 

Access from other locations will require use of the University VPN service.

Data security restrictions

The University Guidance defines the following classifications.

  • Level 0: Unclassified or public information Unclassified or public information is the largest class containing the majority of information.

  • Level 1: Cambridge Only This covers information that is only available to students and staff within the Cambridge domain. It includes memoranda, minutes of meetings (not otherwise marked), and site-licensed software.

  • Level 2: Confidential information This covers certain minutes of meetings, general personal information, financial information, or other information designated as confidential but that may be dealt with by any staff with delegated responsibility from the recipient (i.e. it is not, in a strict sense, information 'for your eyes only').

  • Level 3: Personal and strictly confidential information This covers documents that contain highly sensitive information or personal details that are for the eyes of the recipient only where delegated authority is not appropriate.

The service is suitable for storing low and standard risk data.

The service is suitable for data at University Data Security Level 2 (Confidential information).

You MUST NOT store Level 3 (Personal and strictly confidential information) on the IFS.

Each tenancy, managed by a School, Department or College, can have multiple storage areas ('storage projects') set up. Permissions for individual storage projects are controlled by a Data Owner and Data Managers. They will be able to choose which people have access, and set their permissions.

Availability

The service has been categorised as 'Standard'. Supported hours are standard office hours on working days.  Monday to Friday, 09:00 to 17:00. 

The system is designed for continuous running 24x7, but in the event of a disaster such as total power failure, staff will be required to manually transfer service to a second site.

Information for IT professionals

The system comprises of the following resilience features: 

  • Redundant hardware within each site, including RAIDed disks, multiple head nodes, multiple network paths.  It is replicated to a second data centre with a Restore Point Object of 15 minutes. 

  • Backup is via snapshots each 5 minutes, which will use the assigned quota. There is no additional tape backup. 

Protocol support

  • SMB v3

  • NFS v4 in the future

  • Mixed SMB and NFS shares will not be available

Performance

  • The system has been designed to keep the cost of the storage low. It comprises spinning disks with a small amount of NVMe cache. To prevent overload of the system and give predictable performance, each tenancy has a proportionate bandwidth cap.

  • Ensure you have adequate connectivity to the CUDN. The storage system is connected to the CUDN via  40Gb/s links. 

Data security

An Encryption at Rest feature will be added in the future. 

Costs

The charging model is a mix of 'freemium' and charged. The charges reflect the cost for UIS to provide the hardware, but not the costs of the support time.

Free quota

  • Each School will be given a free quota based on staff head-count, which they can then divide among their departments. The Schools will always have their free allowance.
  • Every College will be given 1TB at no charge for one year only, so that they have an opportunity to evaluate the service.

Additional paid-for quotas

Beyond the free quota, any additional storage space will be charged for on an annual basis at a rate of £150 per TB with VAT charged where applicable, per annum. To reduce administration, we recommend that purchases be made in 10TB increments where possible.

 

How to get the service

Speak to your institutional Data Owner, who has overall responsibility for user management and creating Data Managers. IFS Data Owners and Data Managers can use the Self-Service Gateway portal to buy and administer storage space.

Further information

If you want to know more about this service, please contact your institutional Data Owner.

Alternative file storage options

 

User Support

User Guide

IFS User Guide v1.1 (April 2019)

 

Feedback and technical support

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