Research Store (Q:)

The SHU Research Store service (aka Q:\Research drive) provides shared storage for currently active research projects. This includes research data as well as supporting materials.

How to request a folder
  • If you are attached to a Research Centre please email your Research Store Custodian to arrange project space and access. If external access is required this must also be approved by the custodians. Include the external person’s name and email address in the request.
  • If  you are not attached to a research centre or your research centre has no custodian then please email IT Help. Indicate where you are based, and who should have access. If you need one or more sub folders with tighter access restrictions, for example to deal with confidential materials that not all project members should be able to access, then this can be included in your request.
  • If you are a doctoral student, please ask your supervisor to request a folder on the SHU Research Store for you.
Benefits
What are the benefits of the SHU Research Store?

  • Keeping research data in a central store allows them to be easily accessible to all researchers in a group on and off campus from a wide range of devices.
  • Files can be easily shared between all members of a research group whether staff, students or external researchers. Each folder will be restricted to the group unless a special request is made to give access to others.
  • All files are backed up every night to a remote location which means they are secure and protected by firewalls and access permissions.
  • Files can be restored on request if deleted by mistake or if older versions of the files need to be recovered.
  • Alternative methods of storage — such as USB sticks, DVDs or portable hard drives – unless encrypted, are not as secure and can be lost or stolen. Cloud-based drop boxes may give the companies hosting the storage rights to use or publish the information should they wish.
Overview of the service
The SHU Research Store service (aka Q:\Research drive) provides shared storage for currently active research projects. This includes research data as well as supporting materials. From a SHU Managed Desktop PC this storage is accessed through Q:\Research. A shared folder is provided for each research centre. Sub-folders are created for research projects as required. Access to these folders is restricted to researchers working on the project. This includes SHU staff and students as well as researchers based in other organisations. The SHU Research Store is accessible both on and off campus from a wide range of devices. At project close down all data relating to the project should be securely archived and deleted from this service.
Folder structures and access rights
Access to data stored in the Research Store is restricted by permissions set on the file system. Each research centre has a folder in the Research Store. By default, members of a research centre can access files and folders within their research centre’s main folder. Subfolders can be created for individual research projects and access can be restricted to researchers working on that project. This can include staff and students within the research centre owning the project as well as staff and students from other faculties in the university and external researchers working in other organisations. When changes to permissions are requested, a nominated person within the owning research centre authorises the change. DTS staff administering the service then set the permissions. The only people who can access the data in any particular folder are those researchers who have been authorised to do so and the system administrators in the DST. Authorised researchers can access data held in the Research Store from university PCs and Macs as well as through mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. When working off campus the Research Store is accessible using a web browser.
Automatic backups
The primary copy of the data is stored on a storage array located in one of the university’s data centres. As data is written it is replicated over a secure private network to a storage array located in the other data centre. This provides an up to date second copy of the data giving us excellent disaster recovery capabilities. Either data centre is capable of delivering the Research Store service should the operation of one of the data centres be impacted for any reason.

Backup copies of all files are stored on a separate system. This is primarily to protect against the accidental deletion of files. It also enables us to recover files if data stored on the Research Store is corrupted for any reason. Backup copies are taken every evening and retained for 90 days. Two copies of the backup data are created and one is retained in each university data centre. The transfer of backup data between data centres happens electronically so data on backup media is never removed from the secure environment of the data centres. All backup media is securely disposed of when it is decommissioned and certificates of secure data destruction are obtained.

Security
All data placed in the Research Store is stored on the university’s Storage Area Network (SAN). This provides highly available, robust storage. The SAN comprises of a number of separate storage arrays located in two separate university data centres. Each of these arrays has a number of high availability features with no single point of failure.

Each data centre provides a secure controlled environment housing the university’s servers, storage and network equipment. Physical access is controlled by an DTS Operations team and monitored via CCTV. Intruder detection alarms connect back the university’s central security control. Each data centre has its own uninterruptable power supply (UPS) and generator. In the event of disruption to the mains power supply, this is capable of maintaining power to all equipment in the data centres for an extended period of time. The data centres are located of separate university campuses approximately 1 mile apart.

Access to the Research Store over the network is secured by a number of methods. Users are required to enter a valid username and password before accessing the research store. The service is protected from malicious attack by firewalls and anti-virus software. Systems are patched on a regular basis to protect against known vulnerabilities. All data transfers over the internet are encrypted.

All storage in the SAN is securely disposed of when it is decommissioned at the end of its useful life. Certificates of secure data destruction covering the SAN storage are obtained as part of the decommissioning process. Disks and tapes that are used for the SHU Research Store are destroyed in ways that comply with ISO 27001:2005 Security Management certification, and ISO 14001:2004 Environmental Standards.