The Field Museum | Nasuni

The Field Museum


The Field Museum, a leading exhibitor and an active scientific research institution, is in the process of digitizing its entire collection of 30 million items. This long-term project, along with new and ongoing research efforts, has been driving a steady but unpredictable increase in file storage volume. For a nonprofit with a small IT staff, expanding capacity through hardware was not a sustainable approach. By partnering with Nasuni, The Field Museum upgraded to unlimited, on-demand scalability, improved its data protection and saved 60%.”

Video Transcript

I’m Rob Zschernitz, I’m the Chief Technology office at The Field Museum in Chicago Illinois. The field Museum was founded in 1893 after The World’s Fair that happened about four miles south of here. We have 30 million items in our collection, less than 1% of them are on display in the museum. We’re an active science research institution and so those 30 millions things are constantly being research and we’re constantly collecting more items.

My responsibilities here at the museum are everything technology. So everything from traditional IT data center operations and storage to making sure we have connectivity, public access computing and all of the traditional IT pieces that you would have with the RP systems, etc. Over the past 3 or 4 years as digitization has become very prevalent, we have noticed that there was a shift in what we were storing.

We noticed that all of a sudden, in our case, hundreds of thousands of image files for the most part that had to be stored up on the network. Staying with a traditional SAN was going to become a problem for us, from an agility stand-point, more than anything else but from a whole bunch of different angles. So we started looking at different types of advanced network attached storage solutions that ideally would scale very very quickly.

In doing some research, that’s how we came upon Nasuni. Nasuni differentiated itself, the hybrid cloud solution, the way the filers worked. We very quickly knew that was going to be a fit for the way that we do business and how the file-based storage was going to work. Right now on Nasuni we’re storing the image data and the digitization data for the 30 million items in our collection.

While we don’t have our entire collection images are digitized at this point, we have lots of different image formats up there; there are derivative jpgs, DNA sequence data, and we just started the process of moving all of the traditional file surveying business data over onto Nasuni as well, just from the files from our operational departments inside the museum. Managing Nasuni is a dream compared to a traditional SAN, how we use the Nasuni Management Console, we have statistics and real-time information on what’s happening inside the filers. People can ask me at an executive team meeting, “How much data are we storing?” “What does that data look like?” And I have instantaneous access to that. Setting up new volumes, setting up permissions, it’s all very streamlined, very simple, single-pane of glass measurement for us which is key for us, having a small team.

We play with Azure a bit, we played with AWS a bit. I never had really seen the big performance differences and how I personally think Azure is a little more cutting edge as far as what they are doing on the technology side, and having the filers backed by Azure really brings that to the fore-front of us. Nasuni is saving us about 40-50% of our time and it costs us about 40% of what it costs managing the same amount of storage on a traditional storage area network.

Any organization that is generating a lot of files, whether that be a place that is doing photography, media, architecture, legal firms that are generating a lot of files as opposed to just data in a database would benefit a ton from Nasuni.