ArcticBlue, Powered by BlackPearl

ArcticBlue Low storage total cost of ownership image

While the cost of NAND is declining and the enterprise storage market moves its top tier of storage to flash, Spectra Logic is innovating the exact fit and place for spinning hard disk drives (HDDs) in a tiered storage environment. Its ArcticBlue® Disk Solution, powered by the Spectra® BlackPearl® Converged Storage System, excels at long-term, high-throughput storage in the only platform that is highly complementary to tape. ArcticBlue’s unique features differentiate it and BlackPearl from any other storage system in the market. This blog will outline a few nuances that are easy to miss, but that emphasize ArcticBlue’s particular breed of online, object-based disk storage.

With the majority of a business’s data (by capacity) sitting idle, it logically makes sense to prevent that idle data from taking up space on the most expensive tier or medium of storage (i.e., flash or scale-out disk). Offloading the idle assets into high-capacity disk and tape tiers, then recalling the data and copying it back to flash when needed, is a simple way to scale storage capacity while keeping total cost of ownership (TCO) and performance in balance.

Capacity Advantages

Two of ArcticBlue’s unique capacity advantages consist of its scale-up architecture and its node density. ArcticBlue’s scale-up architecture enables a BlackPearl to manage a rack full of ArcticBlue JBOD nodes. This way, a full rack of ArcticBlue disk can scale to over 10PB of raw capacity today. In addition, the ArcticBlue node density is currently over 280TB per rack unit (RU) in raw capacity. However, its technology roadmap predicts that it will increase beyond 400TB/RU within a year.

ArcticBlue scales by adding more bands; each band is a set of hard drives managed individually as an independent entity. The flexibility of upcoming BlackPearl software version 5.1 allows ArcticBlue band(s) to have any number of HDDs, allowing users to add only what they need. By expanding in smaller increments, ArcticBlue simplifies the scalability to match the capacity and overhead needed for the workflow and business needs.

Scale ArcticBlue by adding additional storage bands even while in production

Scaling and Power Efficiency at Its Best

Individual bands of hard disk drives enable many of the ArcticBlue and BlackPearl flexibility features. Once a BlackPearl bucket has been set with a corresponding data policy, that data policy will have a storage domain for each redundant copy. When more capacity is needed, then an ArcticBlue band will be assigned to the storage domain. Having many independent ArcticBlue bands allows for more granular scaling. It also allows the system to independently power them down when idle, saving electrical power and HVAC, but most importantly, extending the useful life of the hard drives.

The following example is an illustration of the efficient power density of ArcticBlue as its spin-down disk technology intelligently powers down idle drives. Imagine a write-heavy archive, such as archiving data for historical preservation or preserving the ‘gold copy’ or original version of data, with a full rack of disk (10.37PB of raw capacity, which translates into 8.78PB formatted usable space). Typically, in these scenarios, only 2.2 percent of drives (or one band of drives) will be powered on. ArcticBlue’s ability to power down the remaining idle drives thus reduces the system’s power usage to 2.14KWh (from 7.7KWh for the full rack) with a power density of 0.21Wh/TB of raw capacity (or 0.24Wh/TB of formatted usable space).

It’s all about the $$$

One of the biggest expenses in data storage is often a technology’s initial acquisition cost. Spectra’s ArcticBlue solution protects customers’ storage investment by extending the life of the system. One can think of it as minimizing wear and tear. When a drive is powered on and in use, it will gradually deteriorate. By powering down idle drives, ArcticBlue lessens the wear and tear to the system, extending the solution’s life and significantly reducing its annual failure rate (AFR). The AFR is the estimated failure rate for a drive over the warranty period. It is calculated by taking the mean time between failure (MTBF) and dividing it by the duty cycle – which is how many hours in a year the drive is powered on. Your average disk storage solution only runs for a three- to five-year cycle. An ArcticBlue and BlackPearl object-based disk storage system and its hardware will run for seven years before a hardware replacement is required, with full support available through Spectra Logic’s SpectraGuard® program.

ArcticBlue’s seven-year life breaks with the disk norm and lengthens the time between refreshes. With any other disk solution, a customer would have to purchase it at least twice in that same timeframe. ArcticBlue hardware is priced at $0.12/GB for a JBOD node full of HDDs, which is much more affordable than many other disk systems priced at $0.50/GB or higher. When even larger capacity and longer retention is required, a tier of tape can be easily added to the storage environment and seamlessly managed by BlackPearl.

Most people in the data center world understand that total cost of ownership (TCO) – the sum of initial capital expenditures (CapEx) added to ongoing and long-term operational expenditures (OpEx) – is a critical metric when selecting equipment. With both a lower initial price and a seven-year life, ArcticBlue drives down CapEx and additional long-term hardware investments. Moreover, its spin-down disk technology calls for minimal power consumption, decreasing the system’s OpEx. The ArcticBlue solution helps data center managers achieve a lower TCO and realize meaningful cost savings over time.

Better than Disk

Spectra’s ArcticBlue delivers long-term online disk storage for the price of tape. Powered by Spectra’s BlackPearl Converged Storage System, ArcticBlue provides organizations with object-based disk storage that scales in capacity and performance with a very low TCO. A cost-effective complement to environments with tape storage that need affordable long-term online data protection, ArcticBlue is also perfect for tapeless IT environments.

To learn a lot more about ArcticBlue, check out this white paper. More information on BlackPearl’s software capabilities can also be found here.