The demands of data-intensive research represent a challenge for diverse scientific communities. Today, some areas of science are facing hundred- to thousand-fold increases in data volumes, from satellites, telescopes, microscopes, high-throughput instruments, sensor networks, accelerators and supercomputers, compared to the volumes generated only a decade ago. Other research fields also face major data management challenges. In almost every laboratory, ‘born digital’ data proliferate in files, spreadsheets or databases stored on hard drives, digital notebooks, websites, blogs and wikis. The management, curation and archiving of these digital data are becoming increasingly burdensome for research scientists.

UCT eResearch solution

To assist researchers at UCT we have established the infrastructure to provide huge pools of research data storage at a hugely discounted price. The data is stored on Dell MD3060 storage arrays, hosted in the highly secure Upper Campus Data Centre. A copy of the data is replicated to UCT storage array in the Neotel (Liquid Telecom) data centre in Diep River, Cape Town. Secure access to your data is provided via your UCT credentials and you have access to your data from anywhere in the world.

Data storage costs

See Service and Infrastructure Costs page to cost your data storage requirements.

Secure research data storage at UCT

The Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI Act or POPIA) requires the reconsideration of research data storage options to ensure the protection of personal information relating to data subjects.

The secure research data store and server infrastructure is located in a data centre on Upper Campus. The data centre has redundant power feeds from separate distribution boards, supported by redundant UPS power. Physical access is managed via biometric control and limited to authorised ICTS personnel. The data is replicated once a week for disaster recovery purposes to a storage array in a secure data centre in an off-site location in Cape Town. Implementation of an archiving solution, storing data utilizing magnetic tape is in progress. Media is sent to a vaulting company for preservation.

The protection of personal information requires careful consideration of which members in your research team will have permission to process your data. Designated members are assigned access rights on the principle of least privilege – the minimum levels of access or permissions needed to perform the job functions. The data, or assigned portion thereof, is then accessible via the UCT VPN client using UCT user credentials for audit purposes. Access to the data is enabled from anywhere in the world, and the storage allocation can be readily extended as required.


UCT research data storage

Benefits of using the central UCT Research Data Store

  • Storage location within the borders of the Republic of South Africa renders your research data POPIA compliant
  • Highly available and fully redundant storage architecture
  • The storage and server infrastructure are supported and maintained 24/7 by highly qualified ICTS Systems Engineers
  • Your data is stored in highly secured, biometrically controlled data centres
  • Huge volumes available from GB to several TB
  • Secure access and audit trail via UCT credentials
  • Data accessible via multiple devices
  • Data accessible securely from anywhere in the world
  • Data can be shared between individuals and groups of users
  • Data can be transferred via multiple software tools
  • Accessible on Windows, Linux or Apple Mac computers
  • Data accessible via standard file tools as well as the Web

Commercial Cloud Storage Options

UCT has subscriptions to these commercial cloud storage platforms

  Microsoft OneDrive Google Drive
Access Use UCT credentials Use UCT credentials
Cost Free to UCT staff & students Free to UCT staff & students
Quota 1 TB 100 GB
Backups No backups No backups
Deleted files Goes into Recycle bin for 93 days Goes into Trash bin for 60 days
Where is data located

UCT data is stored in Microsoft data centres that are located in South Africa, which makes it POPIA compliant.

Security verification is also more advanced on this option compared to Google.

Data is hosted in Google data centres in the USA
Medical /PII data

This option is the most POPIA compliant cloud storage option available at UCT.

Not recommended for storing medical or personally identifiable information (PII).

 *UCT does not back up the information on either the Google or the Microsoft solutions.

**UCT does not have subscriptions to other cloud platforms such as DropBox, Box, Amazon Drive, etc.

How to request pricing and access to UCT's research data storage platform

Service and infrastructure costs are linked to eRA Pre-Awards to assist in budgeting for research grant applications, and the details listed on the eResearch website. For further enquiries or to request research data storage contact UCT eResearch, or log a request on the ICTS Service Desk.