The Active Archive Concept: why Tape?

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The Active Archive Alliance formation was just announced last week. I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you how the concept originated, evolved and solidified, and why Spectra Logic is participating as a founding member.

I delivered a speech for Spectra Logic at the SC09 show in Portland Oregon in November and realized there is a new market trend that represents real customer needs that are not currently being well addressed for data storage and access.  Unstructured file data is rapidly growing (as we all know),   but budgets aren’t growing at the pace of data—which leaves customers needing to make a tradeoff between access to the data and budget limitations for new storage purchases. There is a real need for customers to be able to: 1) keep the data being created: 2) access and retrieve the data being created; and, 3) to do so affordably. At the SC09 presentation, I covered how far tape had come and evolved in functionality, reliability and intelligent feature sets over the past decade. A current HPC customer attended my session and mentioned a side conversation that took place with other attendees just after my Q&A. The prospect was curious to know if recent advancements in tape make it the perfect storage to pair with a file system interface to maintain access to data in their archive. They needed all of their data online and accessible for years into the future, though most of it was infrequently accessed. To this question, one of our current customers explained, “That’s exactly what we’re doing with our Spectra Logic tape library: using tape as storage for large amounts of file system data.” Through the show, we confirmed that using reliable, affordable tape as the data store behind a file system is both needed to solve data access problems within budgets available; and, most customers don’t realize it is possible to use tape to offload their file system data from the primary storage. We realized that we needed to unearth the myth that tape is just for backup and make it known how perfectly it suits file system archive. An idea was born.
Since November, we’ve been working with industry analysts, various partners and other experts on the topic and have since carved a real niche with which to serve our current and future prospects. Spectra Logic is a founder of the new Active Archive Alliance that will help bring best practices and solution education to end users on how to optimize and simplify data archive, and specifically, how to accomplish this with tape!
So why Spectra tape?
Spectra Logic has joined the alliance because our tape libraries are the perfect fit in an active archive. Several HPC and M&E customers already use our libraries as their file storage utilizing proprietary file management software. With the recent developments in applications that can run on standard operating systems, a tipping point has emerged. Spectra tape can now provide high availability on the hardware, can perform data integrity and media verification, and is fast enough to be utilized for file archive and access.  When you combine the new application functionalities to address tape for file archive with the latest developments in tape storage itself, Spectra Logic is now in a position to  build affordable tape-based active archive solutions for all sized organizations. Spectra’s TSeries tape libraries are uniquely suited to these environments due to their high performance, density, scalability, reliability and power efficiency.
I hope you will visit the new Active Archive Alliance web site at and provide feedback on how we can help you with your own archive solution.
If you have any questions about the Active Archive Alliance or Spectra tape libraries, feel free to reach out.
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