New Report Examines Top Issues Around Research Data Storage in Higher Ed

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Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

By Oren Sreebny – Senior Cloud Consultant, Internet2

In 2023, the changing landscape of cloud storage services led the NET+ Cloud Services Technology Architecture Committee (CSTAAC) at Internet2 to investigate the emerging issues universities face around cloud data storage. 

A CSTAAC working group was formed to identify the biggest issues and challenges related to cloud storage and additionally look for community collaboration opportunities. The working group quickly identified research data storage as a key challenge.


In April 2024, the working group published a report that provides an overview of key findings based on survey responses from 32 higher education institutions across the U.S. 

The top issues identified include: 

  • Research data management challenges like lack of policies, processes, and tools for managing the full data lifecycle
  • Funding and cost management concerns, including difficulties obtaining central funding, funding for long-term storage, and predicting cloud costs 
  • Archiving research data long-term, especially to meet grant requirements
  • Securing and sharing sensitive data while meeting compliance requirements
  • Cultural challenges around prioritizing good data stewardship
  • Technical hurdles like monitoring storage utilization and sharing large datasets

While many universities are starting to offer centrally-funded research storage allocations, the report notes there are still struggles with data management best practices around cost modeling, tiering policies, and consulting support for researchers.

The use of cloud services for research storage paints a mixed picture, with institutions noting both opportunities and challenges. Although the cloud provides flexibility, there are issues around visibility into spending, utilizing cost management features, and data egress costs. Further, cloud storage is potentially more expensive than on-premises storage for some use cases.


Based on its findings, the CSTAAC working group report provides recommendations for potential next steps for Internet2, including:

  • Gathering and sharing examples of innovative funding models for research storage
  • Documenting exemplary data management advisory services at universities  
  • Working with cloud providers on education around storage cost optimization
  • Promoting increased IT/library collaboration on research data support
  • Facilitating conversations with federal agencies around data retention mandates


The full report dives deeper into the context, activities, and analysis behind these findings and recommendations. 

Research data management is a critical issue facing higher education, and this report provides a valuable snapshot of where universities stand today and the challenges that still need to be addressed.