The Environment and Use for Deep Storage: Part II

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By: Matt Starr

In my previous blog I introduced BlackPearl, a new gateway to object storage for tape, and the DS3 interface, based on Amazon’s S3, that make it possible. Today I want to focus on use cases for BlackPearl.

There are two primary use cases that would compel an organization to pursue a deep storage solution like BlackPearl. The first is found in organizations managing exceptionally large data archives. Media & Entertainment organizations are an obvious fit. These companies store massive amounts of data representing movies, TV shows, sporting events, training videos, TV evangelism broadcasts, etc. Another group that falls into this “archive need” category is research facilities. These vary anywhere from universities, to medical groups, to genomic studies, to weather centers, etc.

What do these markets have in common? They’re dealing with huge amounts of data, often in the petabyte ranges, that are rarely accessed after their initial creation or use, but are kept forever. This data is often of great financial value when it is reused, needs to be easily accessed globally, and is generally moved off of high cost, energy inefficient mediums to more appropriate long-term mediums until it is needed.

The second use case we most often see relates to backup, but not in its most traditional sense. Organizations that have large, object based data repositories often find it difficult to perform backups with traditional, file based backup applications, and some organizations have such large amounts of data to protect, that traditional backup simply doesn’t fit. These are generally companies who offer services via the web and hold petabytes of information on spinning disk. Salesforce.com, Dropbox, or photo service companies like Shutterfly may all fall into this category in addition to internet web service providers like Yahoo or AOL. Where this second use case is different from the archive groups listed above, is that the original data is still on spinning disk and available for immediate edit or transactional access. BlackPearl is used to make sure there’s another copy, on a different medium, for protection in case of cyber-attack or natural disaster. BlackPearl is used to make sure there’s another copy, on a different medium, for protection in case of cyber-attack or natural disaster.  This “genetic diversity” in storage mediums is finding new relevance due to the nature of cyber-attacks.  An attack on disk storage rarely works against tape and vice versa.  I’ll be blogging more on that in the future.

There are four defining characteristics of information and access that make them ideally suited for BlackPearl’s Deep Storage:

  1. Data Sets:   Tend to be very large, hundreds of terabytes to petabytes, and can often be grouped by category or use. They may be file based or object based, but need to be moved as objects to allow for the scalability and performance multi-petabyte data movement requires.
  2. Workflow: More predictable. This isn’t traditional HSM where a single file may need to be accessed without warning by an individual user who doesn’t know it’s been archived. Again, scientific research, media and entertainment and protection of multi-petabyte web properties all have this this type of workflow.
  3. Data Use: Think in terms of reference repositories, cold storage, indefinite archive, web services backup, etc.
  4. Access: Typically infrequent after some period of time. Rule of thumb… 15% to 20% access of original store.

If the conditions I’ve described above are similar to your current scenario, you know it’s been really challenging to deal with! The way data collection and use have changed is stressing every traditional approach to long-term storage we have. BlackPearl’s Deep Storage was designed specifically to take these challenges away.

For more information about Spectra Logic’s BlackPearl Deep Storage Gateway, click here.

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