Swiss Educational Non-profit Aces Modern Storage Test with Cloudian

Working on behalf of the education, research and innovation community, SWITCH is committed to the digital future of Switzerland. With its expertise in this field, the foundation promotes cybersecurity, digital identities, and improved use of research data.

Faced with the need for a highly robust and flexible long-term storage solution that would enable SWITCH and its clients to manage and retrieve archived data easily and cost-effectively, the foundation developed a new multi-petabyte storage infrastructure based on Cloudian’s HyperStore object storage. This new infrastructure has provided the scalability, performance and S3 compatibility required to meet modern storage demands, including ransomware protection.

Complexity and Cost of Growing Data Archive

Swiss higher education and research organizations are dealing with increasing amounts of data and the need to preserve and archive this data for ten or more years due to regulatory and audit requirements. The associated complexity and cost represent a daunting challenge, forcing researchers and administrators to prioritize certain data at the expense of other potentially valuable information.

In partnership with the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the research communities FORS, SDSC and DLCM, SWITCH recognized the importance of addressing this challenge. The goal was to build a long-term archiving service focused on the community’s need for robust and sustainable data storage that could integrate with a wide range of applications.

During the initial assessment phase, two key use cases emerged: research data management and administrative data preservation. Researchers regularly need to retrieve previously archived data to either compare it to new data or examine it in the context of new findings. In addition, they need to be able to easily restage archived data as working data without having to worry about the additional costs that many public cloud providers charge for data retrieval.

The second use case involved the need to store administrative data long term for regulatory and audit purposes. Here, storage can be integrated with more classic data preservation solutions, with periodic data snapshots being moved offsite. However, to meet regulatory and audit requirements, institutions need access to logs and records to ensure the data remains unaltered.

A Modern Infrastructure Based on Object Storage

When SWITCH approached Cloudian, it had already been operating infrastructure-as-a-service for seven years. This was predominantly built on open source software components such as OpenStack and Ceph, which SWITCH continues to use. However, as the use cases for native object storage grew, the way users interacted with the service increasingly required all supported features of S3, which Cloudian provided as an integral part of its system.

To meet the two use cases mentioned above, SWITCH wanted a storage infrastructure that could support a wide range of potential archiving tools and systems, provide geographical resilience from the primary data location and ensure data integrity. Other key criteria were scalability, sustainability, price-performance and S3 compatibility. High-performance was a crucial factor, especially for Veeam users, whose Veeam-side architecture required custom configurations and hardware capable of handling the workload. As a result, SWITCH decided to rearchitect its infrastructure and seek a solution that would be very tightly optimized for these specific use cases.

“We evaluated various offerings, including IBM tape and NetApp disk products,” says Ann Harding, Team Lead, Infrastructure and Platform as a Service. “Unfortunately, in an education and research environment, cost-intensive and inflexible enterprise solutions with complex licencing processes are simply unsuitable.”

In contrast, HyperStore provided the perfect fit.

“We see object storage technology as the future of storage but didn’t want to use one of the major U.S.-based public cloud providers because of data sovereignty concerns,” says Ann Harding, Team Lead, Infrastructure and Platform as a Service, SWITCH. “Cloudian provided the scalability and flexibility of public cloud on-premises with fully native S3 compatibility. We also liked HyperStore’s modular scalability and seamless integration with Veeam and thought the company would make an ideal long-term partner.”

A Single Solution Serving Multiple Needs

SWITCH deployed five petabytes of HyperStore object storage for long-term archive and two petabytes for active object storage data appliance.

Cloudian worked closely with SWITCH to provide custom hardware specifications and custom configurations to both manage costs for the long-term storage and deliver the required performance for the active data.

“With Cloudian, we have a future-proof storage foundation through which scientific need, not pricing models, drives how the data is used,” says Harding. “This is important because our client institutions are very cost-sensitive when they are going to store their data for a long time.”

The new HyperStore-based infrastructure enables Swiss universities and research institutes to store all types of data in the SWITCH archive—from Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) images to data from major research projects in a cloud-native environment—and quickly and easily retrieve the data when needed.

In addition, for SWITCH clients that use Veeam backup software, they can take advantage of Cloudian’s S3 Object Lock for ransomware protection. Object Lock enables users to make backup data unchangeable, thereby preventing cybercriminals from deleting or encrypting the data and thus rendering ransomware ineffective. As a result, the data can be quickly and easily recovered in the event of a ransomware attack, without having to pay ransom.

“The nice thing about Cloudian’s HyperStore object storage is that our users can use any S3 supporting applications and libraries, and it just works,” says Harding. “We can be in service provider mode without having to worry about support load, and our clients can focus their full attention on their education and research objectives.”


Education and research


Need for a highly robust and cost-effective long-term storage that could support diverse archive demands


7 PB of Cloudian HyperStore object storage


  • Fully native S3 compatibility
  • Modular, limitless scalability
  • Cost-effective
  • Ransomware protection
  • Single platform for traditional and modern,cloud-native applications
  • Seamless integration with Veeam backup software

“We see object storage technology as the future of storage…Cloudian provided the scalability and flexibility of public cloud on-premises with fully native S3 compatibility.”

Ann Harding
Team Lead, Infrastructure and Platform as a Service, SWITCH