Evaluator Group Testing of Spectra Logic StorCycle

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by Randy Kerns
Senior Strategist & Analyst, Evaluator Group

Due to many factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, professionals in Information Technology have been focused on optimizing their environments and reducing expenses. Recent strategic projects with our IT clients have provided new insights into the current needs and methods for achieving maximum efficiency. One approach is the process of identifying inactive or project-based data that resides on primary storage and moving it to less costly secondary storage such as object storage, NAS systems, cloud storage, or tape. Cost savings were not only from reducing the need to purchase additional primary storage resulting from the recovery of capacity freed up by moving the inactive data but also in the cost for data protection of unchanging data.

One solution that we have found to be viable to aid IT professionals in optimizing their environments is Spectra Logic StorCycle. StorCycle is storage lifecycle management software that can move data based on selection criteria to other storage systems including cloud storage and allowing transparent or explicit retrieval of data. More details on the capabilities of StorCycle are available on Spectra’s website.

Evaluator Group installed StorCycle in our test lab and developed a test plan to evaluate the software for functionality, ease of use, and economic value. For Evaluator Group, it is important to personally test systems and software to verify that it really does what is claimed and ensure that it delivers the value that we expect. Mitch Lewis and I did the installation, executed on the test plan, and wrote a report on our findings here.

We did find StorCycle easy to use. On a personal note, for software deployment, I expect the installation and use to be self-evident. I really do not have time to read an extensive manual and have found that to be the case for most professionals in IT. The software was intuitive and learning by trial was a simple process.
The functions of StorCycle storage lifecycle management software tested included:

  • Deployed StorCycle on a Windows server. An additional iteration of testing was also completed on a Linux server. The tests were designed to mirror a general IT environment.
  • Identify what data to move based on the criteria we selected. Various criteria were used.
  • Movement of data (termed migrate by StorCycle software) both in an automated action and explicitly as when projects would be archived. Target storage tested included NAS storage using CIFS/SMB and NFS file protocols and public cloud storage.
  • Protection of data was verified with encryption, integrity checks, and multiple copies made.
  • Retrieval of data by various means was tested. This included automated retrieval based on access (such as reading data in a file that had been moved) and explicitly accessing data from the target (archive storage) using an HTML link.

The functions operated as expected. During the evaluation, both intentional and unintentional operational mistakes were introduced. None caused issues with further testing and we did not experience issues with StorCycle’s performance and functionality.

Economic value is the ultimate value for StorCycle software. While there is a cost calculator built into the software that is based on the acquisition costs of storage systems, it is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) that, when calculated, will show the true and much greater savings. Changes in the data protection costs – both in licensed data protection software and the cost of storing protected copies, operational costs, and the deferral of the next primary storage acquisition due to the “housecleaning” that can be done by administrators with StorCycle add up to both immediate and compounding savings.

We found StorCycle to be a valuable tool for data management, delivering on the capabilities promised in an easy to use form. There is a roadmap from Spectra Logic for StorCycle with additional capabilities that will add to the benefits and should only increase the economic value gained. IT professionals can use StorCycle to optimize their environments and gain economic value by reducing costs and improving operations.

Read Spectra Logic’s press release on the report here.