OSC and OhioLINK Partnerships Through State Resources

SPECIAL Legislative Briefing, Winter 1998

Is two better than one? It is when you're combining two of the state's best resources. The Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) and OhioLINK offer Ohio's colleges and universities state-of-the-art computing, networking, and information programs that lead the nation in cost-effective delivery of high-quality services. Together, they offer a powerful problem-solving environment. Ohio has great potential as an information state with these two shared resources.

In today's rapidly-changing world, information truly is power. Information gives Ohioans the power to create knowledge, new businesses, and to maintain a high quality of life. Information can be costly, but the higher cost to all taxpayers is the cost of maintaining separate but equal data sources and delivery systems statewide. One way OhioLINK has made colleges and universities more efficient is to provide an economic use of library holdings through a patron online borrowing system and five regional high-density storage centers. OhioLINK has licensed 65 shared electronic databases mostly located at one central location. That location is OSC. "Resource-sharing projects like these enable us to position Ohio colleges and universities at the forefront of technology-based education," says Charlie Bender, OSC director. OhioLINK Executive Director Tom Sanville agrees. "This is the most cost-effective means for OhioLINK to fulfill its mission of enriching the quality of education throughout the state by providing access to resources normally not affordable or manageable by individual libraries."

As the technology moves forward, so does the state's knowledge infrastructure. Electronically accessible journals, digital non-text-based materials (such as rare artworks), and the ability of the World Wide Web to integrate data, text, and audio and visual materials hold great promise for information to support Ohio's colleges and universities in their teaching and research missions. Much in the same way OhioLINK addresses information problems, OSC addresses computing problems. The capacity of raw compute power located at OSC would be extremely costly for any single college or university to maintain. Teaching and research would suffer without the resources at OSC. The computers at OSC serve as teaching and research tools and are used by all of higher education, from the state's largest universities to its smallest liberal arts colleges. Computers, software programs licensed statewide, and innovations such as virtual reality environments and scientific visualization equipment - combined with experienced staff to provide human expertise - are all together in one center. Together, OSC and OhioLINK offer faculty members new tools to increase understanding of complex problems.

A state's research infrastructure is directly related to its potential for economic development. An economically-robust Ohio relies on strong research support and a well-trained workforce. Today, information is a key component of that infrastructure. Continued investment in these programs can keep Ohio in the forefront of information technology and computational problem solving.

Simplified Research is 1998 Reality with Searching, Browsing and Printing All at the User's Workstation

In 1989, the Ohio Board of Regents' described their vision of a superior, yet cost-effective collection of information resources that would include access to electronic fulltext databases for Ohio library users. These full-text resources they envisioned allow users to search, browse and print articles at their workstations. Today, OhioLINK is making this happen. OhioLINK is the first consortium contracting with Elsevier Science, the world's largest scientific publisher, for its entire body of electronically delivered journals. This agreement licenses for the state more than 1,000 journals at a fraction of the cost individual libraries each would pay to purchase a print copy. "No academic library in the state can begin to afford all these titles," said Bill Seuder, director of libraries at The Ohio State University, "The statewide license provides needed access to important research and controls our subscription costs over the next several years. As we expand our electronic access we will avoid the additional costs associated with managing paper copies. Our students and faculty will have a powerful tool to locate information." The Elsevier agreement is just the first such agreement for academic information. This volume of information requires an enormous amount of storage space. That is why OhioLINK needs OSC to provide terabytes of storage. Just one terabyte holds approximately the same amount of information as more than one million standard 1.4 MB floppy disks.

Sharing storage with OSC allows OhioLINK to focus its dollars on expanding information for Ohioans and to continue providing quality, cost-effective education support.

More than 4 Billion Pages Stored at OSC

In computer jargon, 20 gigabytes equals about 2.76 million typed words or 1,840 standard college dictionaries. This is how much information is stored on one tape cartridge in OSC's new high performance file server. The OSC-OhioLINK partnership means the capacity for on-line access to more than four billion pages of journal articles for students, faculty, and staff in colleges and universities across Ohio. The file server, installed last June, increases OSC's storage capacity and is the system that will be used for the OSC-OhioLINK project. The new machine provides OhioLINK an efficient, low-cost way to store journals, databases, and ocher informational resources in one location. The new machine can be upgraded as OhioLINK's needs expand. OSC is the high performance computing and networking resource for Ohio's colleges and universities. Storage and retrieval is key to information technology. Partnerships like OSC - OhioLINK benefit all users of information, including academic collaboration at both the state and national levels. The 'real-time' delivery of both services - information and computation - make Ohio one of the few states in the nation pushing the technology envelope.

How Searching Works:

A student at the University of Toledo wants to find an article about brain tumors. After logging on to OhioLINK from her workstation, the student searches the Science Citation Index Expanded (SciSearch), a scientific technical database, for "brain tumors." Her request travels on the state's information network, OSC Networking, to the OhioLINK computers. The computer then finds SciSearch and retreives the relevant citations. The student may then choose a particularly interesting title which is retrieved from OSC and delivered to the user's workstation -- all in a matter of minutes.


Ohio Board of Regents'
Computing, Networking,
and Information Programs
SPECIAL Legislative Briefing
Volume 1 Number 1
February 1998

Roderick G.W. Chu, Chancellor
The Ohio Board of Regents
Charlie Bender, Director
OSC
1224 Kinnear Road
Columbus, OH 43212
614/292-9248

Tom Sanville, Executive Director
OhioLINK
2455 North Star Road
Columbus, OH 43221
614/728-3600