Cornell University Unlocks Sub-Account Visibility and Security with Wasabi Account Control Manager

Thu Nov 30 2023By Carson Barcome

Founded in 1865 in Ithaca, New York, Cornell University is one of the nation’s premier research universities. Part of the Ivy League, Cornell is home to over 25,000 graduate and undergraduate students and counts 51 Nobel laureates among its alumni.  

Challenge: Scaling Services with Storage Allotment  

Cornell’s Central IT operates like a managed services provider for departments within the university by selling and delivering services to departments and schools at Cornell. One of the primary services the Cornell IT team provides to departments is backup and recovery. For this, Cornell IT provisions several storage types: on-premises block storage, which provides all the storage for their onsite compute; cloud storage with AWS and Azure, which supports their cloud compute resources; and a shared file service, a suite of locally hosted NetApp storage devices that the IT team manages internally and allocates to individuals and departments in need of storage. 

In 2019, Cornell’s Central IT services were expanding, and the small team found it difficult to scale with their customers. Though their cloud storage footprint was small, the IT team found its use to be cost-prohibitive due to associated fees for egress. They were also in need of a simplified billing and management solution to streamline internal sales of services and oversee storage allocated to each client.  

Solution: Cornell Chooses Wasabi for Affordable, High-Performance S3 Storage Solution  

Cornell became a Wasabi customer in 2019 when they were looking for a simple, inexpensive option for S3 storage. Wasabi’s flat-fee pricing and lack of egress fees were major drivers in their decision. The IT team completes hundreds of restoration operations daily, which drew significant egress costs from their previous cloud storage providers.  

The IT team at Cornell University was pleased with Wasabi’s ease of use and integrations with their existing data management applications, including Cohesity, which not only backs up files across thousands of Cornell-run servers but their ESX and Hyper-V hosts as well. All this data is sent to Wasabi, which affords them speeds of up to 20 Gbps. “It has performed just like any kind of local disc. I've really seen no real issues with latency delays in getting back any of that data from Wasabi,” said David Beardsley, Senior Storage Architect at Cornell University. “And we did some really large-scale backups and restores in our testing.” 

Wasabi Account Control Manager Empowers Effortless Storage Management 

The IT team leverages Wasabi Account Control Manager, Wasabi’s web-based management console, providing a top-down view of their clients’ storage usage and rolls each of their billing statements into a single platform for simple invoicing. Wasabi Account Control Manager also frees the IT team from manual account management duties by giving departments complete control over their own subset of storage. Users can create buckets, add users, manage groups, and add and remove data freely without involvement from central IT. The simplified billing, management, and insights were game-changing for Beardsley, giving him the ability to effectively manage storage across Cornell University.  

Wasabi Account Control Manager gives us more vision into what our customers are doing. Not only has it helped us with security, it's also helped us in planning budget and potential onsite and cloud resources.”

- David Beardsley, Senior Storage Architect at Cornell University

S3 Object Lock Adds Layers of Protection for Cornell University 

The Cornell team was also able to bolster their data security by leveraging Wasabi’s Object Lock feature to create immutable backups. “I look at security as kind of an onion with many layers,” said Beardsley. “The more layers that you add ,the better off you are, and I look at securing my customers’ data the same way.” Beardsley has made it a standard practice to make the data he backs up to Wasabi immutable for 30 days, citing the proliferation of viruses, scams, and phishing attempts criminals use to enter a target’s system. “Object Lock adds another layer to our data security onion to ensure that our data is protected against any of those risks.”  

Results: Wasabi Provides Simplified Storage and Savings  

Beardsley cites Wasabi’s egress policy as a major cost-saver for his department. Wasabi’s lack of egress fees represents a complete elimination of the unpredictable costs the University would incur when restoring their data from the cloud. “We probably have 300-400 notable restores a year, and we’ve seen huge savings here because we don’t pay for egress with Wasabi.”  

The insights gained through Wasabi Account Control Manager have been instrumental in transforming the way Central IT conducts business. “We have a lot more visibility now. If I'm billing one of our sub-departments and see a change, I can reach out to them and see what’s going on. Wasabi Account Control Manager gives us more vision into what our customers are doing,” said Beardsley. “Not only has Wasabi Account Control Manager helped us with security, it's also helped us in planning budget and potential onsite and cloud resources.”  

Beardsley has found his Wasabi experience smooth and simple to use. “The fact that we have about two petabytes of storage in Wasabi, and I've had fewer tickets than I have fingers on one hand is a true testament to just how well everything's put together,” he said. 

What’s Next at Cornell University? 

Looking ahead, Beardsley and team will lean further on Wasabi Account Control Manager for administrative actions. “In the future, technical support providers for each of the department’s divisions will be able to do their own sub-billing for their buckets. They can manage users, add users, and let that spider out not from me, but from their own subaccounts,” he said.  

He is also interested in creating a large repository for research data to alleviate their strained shared file system. Cornell’s research departments are world-renowned in fields of biology and environmental science, so it is crucial that this data be preserved. “For example, we have a professor with better than a petabyte of data in OneDrive. It's valid research data, but it can’t stay in OneDrive anymore” Organizations have turned to shadow IT to procure their own storage, which Central IT can’t regulate or assist. “We are really looking at Wasabi as being a place to be able to pull that data back and feed it to Wasabi.”  

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