eHealth Research Data Storage as a Service – a nexus between clinicians and researchers

Mr Mohammad Islam1

1Intersect Australia, Sydney, Australia


Technological advances and rapid adoption in healthcare systems create significant opportunities to conduct further research with digital information from patients to address critical problems and provide better diagnosis or treatment outcomes. However, capturing human-derived research data from healthcare systems creates significant data management challenges that stem from both the scale and complexity of healthcare operations, IT infrastructure, policies and the associated sensitivities in maintaining the privacy of patients.

Research data differs from conventional enterprise data as it is multi-terabyte to petabyte scale data that is written and accessed frequently and/or infrequently, and shared amongst researchers. NSW Health has recognised that servicing research data differs from the standard allocate and increase model of traditional storage and has therefore acknowledged the need for an alternate storage service for researchers in the Local Health Districts (LHD) and broader medical research community. NSW Health’s approach is therefore to offer “Research Data as a Service (RDaaS)” via its eHealth NSW State Wide Information Service (SWIS) authentication and Health Wide Area Network (HWAN). RDaaS is the first proof point project of the NSW eHealth “Infrastructure As A Service Journey”. The service aims to enable research data interchange with higher education research institutions via a neutral third party organisation to an estimated 10,000 researchers, medical students, and clinicians.

Intersect supports a variety of researchers in Australia by offering IT products and services that can address RDaaS requirements that enable data interchange with the wider research community, particularly university researchers. Intersect’s offerings include collocated hierarchical petabyte scale data storage with high speed transfer mechanisms and data management platforms, large shared compute clusters and cloud computing as well as expert advice such that researchers can fully leverage the purpose-built infrastructure. Intersect offers physical, jurisdictional and sovereignty confidence within the Australian regulatory context. Intersect is also the lead node of, a nationally funded infrastructure for health and medical research data that aims to offer secure storage, co-located compute services, management of data and a data registry for dissemination of results and data discovery and access. The project has also developed a valuable resource library that provides information and guidance on legislation, codes, policies, best practice and IT security frameworks.


In this presentation, we will discuss how Intersect is engaging with eHealth NSW, NSW Health researchers and clinicians, , AARNet, the AAF, and other stakeholders to offer an integrated storage, compute and data management and discovery platform for the NSW Health RDaaS project. The presentation will cover off on the following activities and their challenges within the the Research Storage as a Service proof point, namely:

  1. Proof of concept use cases
  2. HWAN and SWIS integration
  3. Service provisioning


Mohammad Islam is Data Science Manager at Intersect and spearheads Intersect’s digital data initiatives nationally. He works collaboratively with relevant stakeholders to develop, plan, manage and implement data services and eResearch initiatives for Intersect at a state and national level. Mohammad is intricately involved in the national project where he provides medical, health and biological expertise. He has a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and a Ph.D. (submitted) in Bioinformatics from Macquarie University. Mohammad’s research background is text mining, biological knowledge extraction, data integration, computational proteomics, and bioinformatics analysis. Mohammad has previously held the role of Operations Manager with intersect, and was responsible for the operational aspects the research data storage, cloud, and supercomputing infrastructure. This expertise, alongside previous Support Manager roles, gives Mohammad a dual background in IT and Research which positions him well to understand researchers’ needs and identify appropriate data storage platforms and solutions for their research data challenges.


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