Massive Data Management without Friction – Komprise and Spectra Solutions

Krishna Subramanian
COO, Komprise

We all know the story – data growth is exploding, but IT budgets are staying flat. Customers realize that storing and managing all data on primary storage is not sustainable – especially since the amount of data managed is typically 300%+ of the amount created (for 1TB of data stored, it is 3TB to 6TB managed – 1TB source, 1TB mirror/disaster recovery and 1 to 3TB backup copies).

Since 80%+ of this data is cold/inactive, by moving the cold data and its management to a cost-efficient secondary storage such as Spectra’s BlackPearl® Converged Storage System, businesses can typically save 70%+ on storage costs.
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Innovation through Software, Part 2 of 2
 BlackPearl’s Multi-Interface Support

As the centerpiece of a modern workflow, Spectra’s BlackPearl® Converged Storage System’s multi-interface support capabilities improve performance and scalability of storage solutions, while facilitating front-end access for users through software multi-tenancy features. By leveraging existing certified client partners like MediaFlux, or self-developed Customer Created Clients, BlackPearl can incorporate a multitude of storage interfaces into a single, user-friendly point of access.

BlackPearl combines object storage with a RESTful server interface to consolidate cache, tape, online, nearline, and public and private cloud storage. This hybrid ecosystem allows BlackPearl to merge different classes of media in the most efficient way possible, migrating data off different tiers per configurable policies based on frequency of use and value. For instance, Linear Tape File System (LTFS) is the only format that BlackPearl uses to write to tape because it is an open-standard way to exchange data across different operating systems and software. While this flexibility provides a cost-effective alternative for tiered content storage and deep archive, LTFS technology mimics a file-based storage, presenting the same performance limitations of traditional file systems. By using a RESTful interface, BlackPearl solves common file-based issues like time-outs and errors/failure when sharing data between servers. Furthermore, the cache management of BlackPearl is optimized for tape. Storage policies enable BlackPearl to stage the initial storage of the objects in its cache, and plan how it will store the data on tape, allowing for higher throughput in the system and maximizing efficient use of space in the repository. Read More

Innovation through Software, Part 1 of 2 BlackPearl’s Cloud-Out Feature

A cloud initiative is now widely recognized as an essential part of a genetically diverse storage strategy. In previous blog posts, we’ve discussed the importance of incorporating on-premise copies (When the Cloud is Out of Order, Are You?), storing to multiple locations, and making use of backup, restoration, and replication methods (Comparing Data Resiliency and Data Protection) to achieve resilient and protected data with a cloud initiative. This week’s blog will explore how the Spectra® BlackPearl® Converged Storage System’s hybrid cloud storage model allows data to move seamlessly into disk, tape and cloud storage in a way not previously possible. Read More

Automating Data Management with the Combined Spectra and StrongBox Solution

Floyd Christofferson
SVP, Products, StrongBox Data Solutions

Spectra invited StrongBox Senior VP of Products Floyd Christofferson, to discuss the attributes of the StrongBox and BlackPearl Solution.

How does the StrongLink® solution work?

StrongLink leverages the power of metadata and machine learning to deliver the first solution to truly automate storage and data management across multi-vendor storage environments. StrongLink is not limited by a particular filesystem or storage vendor ecosystem but can bridge multi-vendor environments with a policy-driven management layer to automate and simplify all aspects of data management, data protection, storage resource management and more. Read More

Demystifying LTO-8: Part IV

Part four of our “Demystifying LTO-8” blog series covers Spectra Certified Media and the benefits of implementing it within your data center.

Why Spectra Certified Media?

  • Media has variability. Multiple vendors produce raw media and while there are standard LTO specifications, there is still variation. EVERY PIECE of Spectra media is individually tested, unlike other vendors who do batch testing and claim to certify “an entire truckload of media.” There is often variation within batches and Spectra believes the only way to guarantee the reliability of its media is to test every piece individually.
  • Vendors have variability. Over time, different vendors provide media that varies. Spectra tests every media option and only uses the best available raw media as the basis for Spectra Certified media. This ensures customers only receive the most reliable media on the market.
  • Spectra has higher standards than anyone. A base LTO specification is in place and media vendors are required to at least meet the minimum. Only Spectra Certified media guarantees the reliability needed for “forever archives.”
  • Spectra Certified Media is Carbide cleaned. This ensures maximum drive life and media longevity. Rough media is extremely hard on the heads in a tape drive. CarbideClean removes manufacturing residue present on all media and doubles the life of tape drives.
  • Spectra Certified Media is directly integrated with Spectra libraries for continuous monitoring. Buying the best media at the beginning is not enough. Media has a tough life with countless mounts, spooling, read/write, verifications and sometimes rough treatment from environment or the library itself. The ONLY way to monitor the health of your media is through the exclusive Spectra Media Lifecycle Management [MLM].
    • Initialization – At initial test, 40+ unique health statistics are sent to an RFID chip on the tape.
    • Monitoring – MLM statistics on Spectra Certified Media are continuously tracked by the Spectra Library for overall tape health. Data is easily accessible through the library BlueScale interface.
    • Alerting – When the library identifies tapes that are at risk, the user is immediately notified so actions, including data migration to a new tape, can be initiated. Identifying statistically problematic tapes before they fail and data loss occurs saves customers millions of dollars.
    • Ongoing scanning – Drive Integrity Verification as well as “quick” and “full” scan options allow administrators to periodically sample both tapes and media on a periodic basis and get ahead of issues before they arise.
    • Spectra Certified Media is guaranteed for life – Unlike other vendors who have a 90-day or couple-year warranty, Spectra stands behind its media and guarantees it forever.

    Bottom line, Spectra Certified media saves you money and provides unparalleled data protection… After all, isn’t that why you are using tape in the first place?

    This concludes our four-part “Demystifying LTO-8” blog series. If you haven’t had a chance to read parts one, two and three, visit our blog page on our corporate website. Also, look for the hashtag #LTO8FAQ on social media for other blogs from the series. Read More

Demystifying LTO-8: Part III

Part three of our “Demystifying LTO-8” blog series covers the process of migrating from older generations of LTO tape technology to LTO-8 and LTO-7 Type M.

Should I migrate data on older generations of media to LTO-8?

  • First consider read/write compatibility:
    • LTO-8 drives will read and write LTO-8 and LTO-7 media.
    • LTO-7 drives will read and write LTO-7 and LTO-6 media and READ LTO-5.
    • LTO-6 drives will read and write LTO-6 and LTO-5 media and READ LTO-4.
    • With the exception of LTO-8, the pattern continues: read/write back one generation, read back two generations.
    If you consider migration, you should always migrate to the latest generation of LTO technology (i.e. LTO-8 drives and media). Migrating to a lesser version (LTO-7) should only be considered if you are in a space-constrained “emergency,” as it will limit what later generations you will be able to read. Consider whether you could just add a new partition to your library with the latest generation of LTO drives and write new data to that partition on LTO-7 Type M or LTO-8 media, while leaving your existing data on present tapes. Most older generation drives are still available for support and Spectra Certified media has a lifetime warranty. Spectra also maintains limited stock of older generation drives for replacement as needed. Consider if you are space, partition or throughput/drive constrained:
    • If you are out of physical space within your library or data center, consider migrating to the latest generation of LTO technology (LTO-8).
    • If you want to leave older generations as they are but have reached the partition limit for your library, consider either adding another smaller library to your data center for your LTO-8 partition or migrating some of your oldest data to LTO-8.
    • If you need more overall throughput or have reached the drive count limitation for your current library, consider migrating data to LTO-8.
    Also keep in mind the longevity of your data.
    • If you are required to keep data “forever,”” or it has intrinsic value indefinitely, you should store it on media that is readable within the system you already have.
    • For example, say it’s time to move LTO-4 media. While it is readable by LTO-6 drives, which you can keep in your library for years to come, this is a good time to begin planning for the future. With almost a 16X increase in capacity, a rather large set of LTO-4 tapes can be significantly condensed on LTO-8 tapes, and be readable for another 20 or so years.

    Contrary to many storage pundit’s strong warnings, migration is NOT required on a regular basis with tape. While many companies adopt an every-other-generation approach to migration, this is not required as long as you keep some of the previous generation drives in your library to read them. Migrate when you need to, but let Spectra provide consultation on the right time and process for you. We are partners in your digital archive strategy. Read More

#SC17: Trends from the Show Floor

Last week, Spectra Logic exhibited at one of its largest industry trade shows of the year: Supercomputing 2017. Also referred to as SC17, Supercomputing is an international event dedicated to showcasing work in high performance computing, networking, storage and analysis. This year’s show was held right in our own backyard at the Colorado Convention Center, and was attended by HPC professionals from around the globe.

Spectra team members observed several trends and HPC industry developments. Here are a few of the hot topics and trends that stood out:

  • Adoption of Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and Machine Learning: Artificial intelligence, virtual reality and machine learning were all hot topics on the exhibition floor.
    • The idea with machine learning is that, in fields like HPC, it helps data scientists focus more on their work, rather than infrastructure.
    • These new technologies are showing up in consumer-friendly applications like self-driving cars, facial recognition devices, etc.
    • Users are concerned with of AI’s power of application/s, human trust and transparency, which may potentially undermine its future use.
    Strong University Presence: With the numerous universities exhibiting at SC17 this year, it’s evident that high performance computing is crucial for the research and development that occurs at the academic level. Emergence of LTO Tape: We overheard lots of buzz around LTO-8 and LTO-7 Type M tape technology. Tape is very much a staple in the long-term storage strategies of HPC organizations.
    • While Spectra’s tape solutions are still incredibly popular among the HPC community, people also recognize that Spectra is more than just tape. Solutions like BlackPearl, Verde NAS and ArcticBlue are receiving more attention within the HPC space.

    SC17 was a great success for Spectra Logic! We had many customers, partners, and press/analysts visit our booth, meet with our executives, and express interest in our solutions. Looking forward, we are excited to see what trends develop in HPC in 2018. See you all at next year’s show! Read More

Demystifying LTO-8: Part II

Part two of our “Demystifying LTO-8” blog series covers when users should consider implementing LTO-8 drives and media into their data centers.

LTO-8 Drives:

When should I order LTO-8 drives?

  • LTO-8 drives are fully certified in all Spectra Libraries and available for sale now.
  • If you are purchasing a new library but are not yet ready for LTO-8, Spectra offers a pre-purchase program where LTO-7 drives are inserted at setup and can be swapped out for LTO-8 at your discretion. When you are ready, you will be first in line to receive the latest drives and media.
  • Note that LTO-8 drives with LTO-7 (LTO-7 Type M) media are an excellent first step until LTO-8 media is fully available and cost effective.

LTO-8 Media:
When should I use LTO-7, LTO-7 Type M, or LTO-8 media in my library?

  • LTO-8 drives with LTO-7 Type M media are available now. This combination provides all the value of LTO-7 media at full speed while providing the flexibility to mix and match LTO-8 media.
    • Most customers do not buy an entire year’s worth of media at once, but use the same financial concept of dollar-cost averaging, buying monthly or quarterly since media pricing and technology change frequently, especially near the time of a launch of a new generation.
    • Spectra recommends installing LTO-8 drives as soon as possible.
    LTO-8 media with 12TB native capacity is the next step to be considered. Moving fully to LTO-8 will depend on a combination of space constraints and overall $/GB costs. If LTO-8 media launches at a significant premium to LTO-7, then it may be most cost effective to stay with LTO-7/LTO-7 Type M media until either an equivalent $/GB is reached or you are pressed for physical space and need to move to a denser media type. LTO-7 Type M media compatibility
    • With LTO-8 drive shipment (expected mid-November), any LTO-8 drive will be able to read and write LTO-7, LTO-7 Type M, or LTO-8 media.

    What should I consider when using LTO-7 Type M tapes?

    • Normally the ISV software is responsible for media loading. The ISV software must be able to recognize the LTO-7 Type M option and how to handle it.
    • In the case where there is uncertainty about the ISV, a separate partition with LTO-8 and LTO-7 Type M tapes can be considered – consult Spectra rep for additional information

    In part three of the “Demystifying LTO-8” blog series, learn everything you need to know about potential migration options for organizations utilizing past generations of media. You can find other blogs from the series on our corporate blog page, and by following the hashtag #LTO8FAQ on social media. Read More

Demystifying LTO-8: Part I

With the all the recent news about LTO-8 and a new media called LTO-7 Type M media, this blog series is intended to break down the details surrounding this new tape technology and provide some clarity to users looking to learn more. From drives to media, there are some significant changes from previous LTO generations, making LTO-8 and LTO-7 Type M the technology of the future.

LTO-7 Type M Drive Image

LTO-8: What You Need to Know

What is LTO-8?
LTO-8 is the latest tape drive and media technology enabling:

  • Double the capacity of LTO-7 – now 12TB native per tape and up to 30TB compressed (2.5x compression assumed)
  • 20% higher throughput per drive – up to 360MB/s native and up to 750 MB/s compressed data. (Half Height drives will be at 300MB/s)
  • Backward read/write compatibility to LTO-7
  • New to LTO-8, a special LTO-7 Type M media is also available at 9TB native, providing users an intermediate option.

What about the tradition of reading/writing back one generation and reading back two?

  • Most previous LTO releases have been able to read back two generations, but a significant technology change with LTO-8 required limiting read/write back to one generation only. The LTO-8 drive reads and writes LTO-7 tapes but will not accept an LTO-6 tape at all.

What is a TMR head?

  • As with any storage technology, a plateau is eventually reached where further investment in the current technology only results in small density improvements and it becomes time to switch to a newer technology allowing for substantial growth.
  • Tunneling Magnetoresistance [TMR] heads allow significantly more bit density on the tape and allow for more and more tightly spaced tracks.
  • TMR heads, though, need to be closer to the tape, and are, therefore, more easily damaged by rougher tapes used in older generations.

LTO-7 Type M Media at 9TB: Read More

Get to Know Spectra Logic’s BlackPearl Client Partners: EmpressMAM

Through key technology partnerships, Spectra Logic is able to deliver industry-leading BlackPearl-based storage solutions to the world’s largest data creators. This week’s blog will spotlight BlackPearl partner Empress and its powerful media asset management platform, eMAM. Together, Spectra Logic and Empress deliver a fully-integrated solution that enables customers to quickly and effortlessly manage larger volumes of media content in a seamless workflow, like never before.

Company Name: Empress Media Asset Management, LLC
Interviewee’s Name: David Miller
Title: Chief Operations Officer (COO)
Years at the Company: 10
Name of the BlackPearl Client: Cisneros
Ideal markets/vertical industries for the solution: Media & Entertainment, Federal

Tell us the three biggest challenges end users face today, that led you to develop this solution. Read More