From Identification to Migration, Protection and Access: Spectra StorCycle

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As the expansion of data continues to accelerate, organizations face an ever-increasing need to find affordable, creative solutions to the problem of long-term data retention and protection. Most IT administrators are caught between a rock and a hard place. They are running out of space on their expensive, high performing storage systems, but simply don’t have the budget to increase the size of those systems to accommodate the extreme performance required by today’s business applications, as well as for the economical long-term data preservation.

Behind this problem is an alarming reality: According to Storage Switzerland, roughly 80% of the world’s data typically lives on the wrong tier of storage. This is data that is still considered important enough to keep, but isn’t active, or being actively accessed. The typical IT administrator has neither the time, staff or resources to make a detailed study of their entire dataset to understand what has to stay on that high performing tier and what can be moved off to a Perpetual Tier of storage.

Traditional hierarchical storage management (HSM) systems attempted to address this problem in a myriad of ways, most of which were designed to try to fool a file system or application into thinking a file was still there, when in fact it had been moved to an archive system. Getting files back meant using file stubs (which were easily orphaned), and racing against the clock to beat file system or application timeouts. This approach often just didn’t work. These systems tended to be incredibly complex, proprietary and very costly to maintain. Few ever worked well, and those that did commanded a price that made IT administrators question whether the added complexity was worth the effort.

Spectra Logic’s expertise in cost-effective data preservation, alongside the evolution of the modern data center, made us uniquely qualified to address this age-old problem in a fresh way. Introducing Spectra StorCycle, Spectra’s new standalone storage lifecycle management software.

How StorCycle Works

StorCycle was designed with the purpose of keeping things simple yet flexible, and provides a software platform that is feature-rich yet incredibly affordable. StorCycle delivers four key elements of true data storage management: Identification, Migration, Protection and Access.

StorCycle begins with a highly efficient scan of an active source file system. The scan compiles and presents real time analytics, revealing an actionable view of the data landscape: how many files, who owns them, how large or small, how old and when they were last accessed. The scans can be scheduled, throttled as necessary and reused as needed to avoid performance disruptions due to continuous scanning. This kind of flexibility and business intelligence enables IT administrators to make effective decisions regarding storage lifecycle management and data migration.

StorCycle then presents options for how to migrate qualifying data. Automated migration on the basis of past or upcoming scheduled scans is easy and quick to set up.  In addition, StorCycle intelligently migrates entire project directories when project data no longer needs to live on an expensive high-performance tier. After migrating data, StorCycle accurately maintains directory structures and Access Control Lists.

Moreover, StorCycle allows IT administrators to migrate the qualifying data to the Perpetual Tier layers of their choosing. StorCycle is able to make and track multiple copies on a variety of targets, adding both geographic and genetic diversity into data protection plans. StorCycle works seamlessly with all of Spectra’s disk and tape products, but can just as easily use existing storage more efficiently, or be the gateway to a disaster recovery (DR) copy in the cloud.

What happens when the data is migrated?

How will users find their data if they go looking for it, especially when they are accustomed to finding it in their primary storage share? StorCycle provides access options to keep this simple and tunable for any IT environment. StorCycle can create a copy of the files to one or more layers within a Perpetual Tier, leaving a copy on the Primary Tier of storage. Or, if user access is not a concern, StorCycle is able to do a simple move, removing the files from primary storage once it has been verified in place within the Perpetual Tier.

To keep the Primary Tier of storage freed up while maintaining true user access, StorCycle can also move files to the target layers in the Perpetual Tier, and replace them with simple HTML links, which when clicked, provide useful information about the file and an intuitive, user restore capability.

Finally, for truly transparent access, StorCycle will soon have the ability to replace files migrated off of primary storage with symbolic links, which will seamlessly redirect file requests from users or even applications to where the data resides in the Perpetual Tier.

From Identification to Migration, Protection and Access, StorCycle provides the modern IT administrator with the insight and capability to make customized, business-first decisions—saving money and time at all levels within the data center. For more information on StorCycle and Spectra’s portfolio of award winning storage solutions, visit our website at