Stockholm University Storage Solution Makes It Easy to Do Things Right

Published: 2021-03-25

Laptop with filing cabinet drawers sticking out from the screen.

"Make it easy to do things right.”
This has been a guiding principle in the work at Stockholm University to build their solution for storing research data. Their system is based on the cloud service Sunet Drive, and uses the SND API for data repositories.

Wilhelm Widmark, Library Director at Stockholm University (SU), has turned this project into reality together with, among others, Per von Bahr, coordinating administrative lead and IT Project Manager. Per introduced their efforts at SU in a webinar arranged by SND, Sunet, and SNIC in early March.

One system to cover the entire research data life cycle

—For us, this is more than just installing a storage solution. It’s important that the system is accessible, secure, and user friendly. It also has to cover the entire life cycle for research data. We begin with the data management plan, have support for, for instance, metadata standards, file naming, destruction, preservation, and archiving, says Per von Bahr.

Portrait of Per von Bahr.
Per von Bahr, Stockholm University.

From the outset, this project has included a number of experts and users, such as the IT Service Desk, the research data team, financial officers and, not least, researchers. A primary task has been to create information and functions that are so intuitive and comprehensive that most of the administrative burden falls on the research projects that require the most storage.

In order to develop good user guides, the project team had ten researchers test the system without any instructions. The user guides were then based on the questions that arose in the research group during the test run.

200 gigabyte free storage space per researcher

—Most researchers won’t need this much storage space. Some 80% will do just fine with the 20 gigabyte that each researcher and doctoral student at SU will get, free of charge. By providing them with 200 gigabyte from the start, we save unnecessary and costly administration, says Per von Bahr.

If a research project needs more storage space, the responsible department places an order, and will pay 6 öre per additional gigabyte every month. Per von Bahr states that the cost is important as a matter of principle.

—This storage space is a professional space for professional material, so it can’t become a data cemetery. The fact that storage comes at a cost means that you have to actively make a decision about what to do with data when, for example, a research project ends.

Basic legal requirements and IT security

Other important principles for the storage project has been that it must comply with some basic legal requirements, such as the provisions in the General Data Protection Regulation concerning sensitive personal data, and requirements for IT security, for example protection from espionage.

—We’ve concluded that the Sunet cloud storage solution is the service that can fulfil our requirements the best. It’s a private cloud, the server halls are placed within Swedish borders, and even the owners are located solely within Swedish borders, says Per von Bahr.

The Sunet storage at SU has been operative since December 2020. A limited number of researchers have been invited since the end of January, but as of this week, information will be sent out and the operations gradually increase. The goal is to make the storage solution a part of a comprehensive support for researchers at SU.

—By harmonising the IT architecture, capture relevant information at an early stage, and connect and automate processes, we can make the administration more efficient in a way that makes it easier for researchers throughout the research cycle. It will also simplify the work for those who provide researchers with various forms of support during research and publication, not to mention for future e-archiving, says Per von Bahr.