It’s been a tiring but interesting few weeks of travel lately, with the Spectralogic Summit, VMworld EMEA and IP Expo all happening within a few weeks. One interesting observation coming from these events is the approach being taken by vendors to manage large scale archives.
I have to say I didn’t know much about Spectralogic before attending their recent summit event in Denver and so I was somewhat skeptical on what would form the basis of their “big announcement”. The answer has been widely reported already and it is BlackPearl, an appliance that sits in front of a tape library effectively turning it into an AWS S3 compatible object store.
Take a step back for a moment and look at a previous article I wrote after last year’s IP Expo in London during which I attended the jointly held Tape Summit. At the time I made the following comments:
- The tape industry is in denial
- Tape still has a place
- Usability is all wrong
- Backup software vendors are holding us back
Tape is one way of building a large-scale archive, however as discussed there are some issues with tape access times. An alternative solution is to build a large-scale disk archive and keep everything on spinning media. Disk archive solutions have been tried before; Copan Systems being a notable example with their spin down technology. Unfortunately there are a number of big issues with implementing disk archive systems that have any sort of scale:
- Disaster Recovery – if the archive is the only system of record for the data, then a copy or a backup has to be taken. But as an archive scales, that becomes an increasingly complex task due to the processes involved in backing up changed or new content. In addition, extra data copies or backups introduce significant additional cost.
- Design Flaws – todays storage arrays aren’t designed to be large-scale archives, but rather are constructed to serve primary storage. This results in very specific design decisions and features and is different from the requirements of an object store.
Although other solutions exist that also use erasure coding, I haven’t seen any that talk about the scale to which Cleversafe claim to operate. In addition, some of the issues and opportunities that came up in my recent discussion with Chris Gladwin (Cleversafe founder) point to some intruiging use cases for the technology. Again, I will be doing a more thorough review of what Cleversafe has to offer.
The Architect’s View
Whether or not you archive to disk or tape, it’s a case of choosing the right technology for you and evaluating all the costs to develop a true TCO. It could well be that tape continues to have relevance in the future. But that’s not really a surprise, is it?
- What’s Wrong With Tape?
- Where Does Tape Go From Here?
- Spectra Logic Unveils Industry’s only Tier that Stores Massive Data for Pennies per GB
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