Media Archive

Moonwalk in Research

The James Hogg iCAPTURE Centre at St. Paul’s Hospital is a UBC research centre supported collaboratively by the Faculty of Medicine of UBC and Providence Health Care.

Built on a 25 year history of research excellence, the iCAPTURE Centre was created in 2000 with the infusion of $21 million of infrastructure funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and its partners.

Interviewed by Byte and Switch magazine, IS manager for the iCAPTURE Centre Joe Comeau says he's implementing Moonwalk after a six-month testing period. He uses Moonwalk to archive and restore data from his centre’s digital microscopes to a four-node clustered Xiotech SAN and IBM tape library.

Comeau says before Moonwalk, the lab researchers could not access files off the tape archive. They would have to go to IT to restore the files. So he began archiving on CD and DVD, but there were thousands of disks with data that users had to go through to find files. Comeau found discs often were lost, mislabelled, and hard to index.

Running Moonwalk allows his researchers to call up files themselves without needing IT or having to go through optical storage or buy disk. They click the files on the Web-based interface and often don't know the data has been moved off to tape.
"We keep data and want to analyse it again and again and again," he says. "It has to be pulled back by a researcher or a student, not an admin. They click on a stub file, and Moonwalk pulls the files back. It's lightning fast."

Comeau says it took a bit of time for him to get his arms around the technology, but once it was installed it was easy for his users. "It takes a little bit of understanding, a lot of reading and documenting and planning," he says. "But once you set it up, it works quite well. We're impressed with it."

He also says Moonwalk was considerably cheaper than CaminoSoft, which is probably the most popular choice for migrating NetWare files.

Analyst Brad O'Neill of the Taneja Group ( tells Byte and Switch that Moonwalk software behaves as in a peer-to-peer network, which lets devices share bandwidth and processing power, in contrast to the point-to-point network approach with a central server.

"A typical file transfer uses direct movement from file to target, it's a point-to-point relationship," he says. "These guys [Moonwalk] let files behave like objects. You can have a direct movement from source to target. That makes it faster and more scalable."

At present, iCAPTURE has over 250 personnel working towards solving the problems of heart, lung, and blood vessel diseases.

Moonwalk Universal develops software for heterogeneous Information Lifecycle Management. Moonwalk can be applied to a variety of operations including Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM), Archiving, Disaster Recovery and structured File Management.