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What is ODLRC?

The Ontario Digital Library Research Cloud (ODLRC) project is a collaboration of Ontario’s university libraries to build a high capacity, geographically distributed storage and computing network using proven and scalable open source cloud technologies.  The ODLRC will be designed to house large volumes of digital content to allow for cost effective and sustainable long-term preservation and to support data and text mining using innovative research tools.

Who is ODLRC?

The ODLRC is a product of collaboration between 11 university libraries in Ontario. Within this collaboration, the roles are varied. The University of Toronto Libraries (UTL) provides technical and project management staff for the project through its Information Technology Services (ITS) unit and through Scholars Portal.  Scholars Portal is a shared technology service supported by all of Ontario’s university libraries through the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL).  UTL provides technology leadership and operational support for Scholars Portal, which houses and makes available millions of digital articles, books and datasets to students and faculty across the province.  The other nine initial partner libraries provide local technology support and participate in the governance, implementation, and assessment of the project.  All 21 university libraries will ultimately benefit from this collaboration by having a new option to acquire high-capacity archival storage through the ODLRC at cost-effective rates.

Collaboration is a critical component of the ODLRC.  The project partners share responsibility for implementation of the technology that ultimately will benefit all of Ontario’s universities and beyond, as Canadian research communities – both within academia and without – come to terms with the challenges presented by the increasing volume of digital objects and the challenges presented by Big Data. The ODLRC aims to be a common foundation on which Ontario’s university libraries will develop services tailored to their particular communities.  

Project Partners

Carleton University
Guelph University
McMaster University
Queens University
Ryerson University
Wilfrid Laurier University
University of Ottawa
University of Toronto
University of Waterloo 
University of Windsor
York University 

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Why are Ontario’s university libraries developing a cloud storage service?  Based on experience and analysis, the libraries have determined that alternative storage options, on campus and beyond, are not viable from a cost point of view for long-term digital preservation.  Initial capital costs are too high and ongoing costs are not sustainable.  ODLRC will make use of scalable technologies to build large-scale storage services using low-cost disk farms and servers, providing significantly lower costs of storage for libraries seeking to deliver and preserve massive digital collections for current and future generations of students and faculty. 



For the initial implementation of the cloud, Scholars Portal and the University of Toronto have selected Dell as the hardware vendor.

The implementation consists of two types of systems: heads and storage shelves, with each node consisting of one head unit and two or more storage shelves.

The model and specifications on the two types of units are as follows:

Head units: Dell Power Edge R720xd server populated with two 2.8GHz Xeon processors, 256GB of RAM, and two 200GB SSD drives which will be used to run the operating system and the OpenStack software.   Each head unit also contains twelve 4TB SAS drives for an internal storage capacity of 48TB.

Storage shelves: Dell PowerVault MD 1200 storage shelves,  directly attached to the server, with each shelf containing twelve 4TB SAS drives, with a total capacity per shelf of 48TB.


The ODLRC will use the Swift module of the open source OpenStack cloud management software to connect the storage nodes described above into a distributed network, with content replicated across the partner sites.  Effective data replication is a key element of all long-term digital preservation strategies.  The Ontario university libraries, which share common needs for low-cost preservation storage and have a long history of collaboration through OCUL and Scholars Portal, are in a good position to build a shared storage network, jointly governed and sustained through member contributions and subscription fees.

The ODLRC is built on scalable, open source technology. Our goals in selection of software are to ensure scalability, and to make sure the project is open, replicable, and advances the conversation around sustainable storage technology in the memory institution community. 

Current Software in Use


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