Stratus Protected Data Cloud

Stratus Protected Data Cloud

MSI is building a local research compute cloud environment called Stratus (, which is designed to store and analyze protected data, such as dbGaP. Stratus is a subscription-based infrastructure as a service that enables users to operate within their own self-service virtual machines on the spectrum between a low-level bare-metal HPC and a fully virtualized, shared-tenancy mode. Stratus is powered by the Newton version of the OpenStack cloud platform, and is backed by Ceph storage

The initial interation of Stratus will feature functionalities not available on other MSI systems:

  • The self-service portal allows users to create virtual machines and remote desktops on demand.
  • Long-running jobs (i.e., > 30 days) are enabled by leveraging live-migration during maintenance windows.
  • Virtual machines support Docker containers for self-service software management (e.g., to deploy local versions of Galaxy or JupyterHub).
  • A secure storage platform provides the necessary isolation and protections for users to process protected data.

NOTE: This system is part of the MSI Beta program and details are subject to change.



The Stratus compute hardware currently consists of:

  • Twenty HPE Proliant XL230a compute nodes, each with two Intel E5-2680v4 (14-core) CPUs, 256 GB of RAM, and 10 GigE networking to the outside world.
  • An array of eight HPE Apollo 4200 storage servers, connected to compute nodes via redundant 40 GigE switches.
  • Eight additional servers tasked with monitoring storage operations and orchestrating virtual machine lifecycles.

The initial storage deployment on Stratus has:

  • 200 TB of Ceph block device storage for ephemeral VMs and data volumes
  • 500 TB of S3-compatible Ceph object storage for short-term protected data caching
  • Separate S3 object storage to store persistent protected data copies*,**

* Option available for purchase per-TB/Year

** Persistently stored data must have an original copy stored at another location


Access to Stratus is granted by annual subscription fee. The base subscription gives users:

  • the ability to use up to 16 vCPUs across one or more virtual machines
  • 2TB of ephemeral storage for virtual machines and attached volumes
  • access to the S3 protected data cache for short-term storage
  • access to a virtual machine image repository containing MSI-approved CentOS and Ubuntu images
  • root access to install software on personal virtual machines

A breakdown of the FY19 costs of Stratus services is as follows:


Stratus subscription (year 1) Pkg $663.40
Additional CPU Cores vCPU $20.88
Additional Block storage TB $164.69
Persistent Secure Object storage TB $76.22


NOTE: Stratus services and subscriptions are currently restricted to University of Minnesota users with active data use agreements for NIH dbGaP data. 


Contact the MSI helpdesk to enroll today:  Email





Documentation and Frequently Asked Questions about Stratus can be found here

Stratus FAQ


Publications about Stratus can be found below