Backup, Archive, HSM – What’s the Difference Anyway?

Part One or Two

One of the interesting things I have discovered since I have been talking with so many HPC customers is that the term “backup” is seldom used.  You might ask if they aren’t doing traditional backups, then why would we, a backup solutions provider,  want to talk to them. Well, first you need to fully understand the difference between backup and archive.  Archive is a word you will hear more often in the HPC and M&E environments, especially if there is data in excess of the petabyte range and large files that aren’t accessed frequently but need to be kept indefinitely.  Read More

No Question About it: Sometimes Tape is the Answer

Dear Ms. Meade:
My data crunching company generates 2-3 TB of data per customer, and I need to store that somehow. However, I don’t have room for a tape library. The only thing I can think to do is put the data on some hard drives using Linux-based RAID software, then put the disk in a safety deposit box. Do you have any other suggestions?”
Short on Space

Dear Ms. Space:
You have money and room for terabytes of disk storage, which you will squirrel away in a pretty large safety deposit box, but not a couple of dollars and rack units for a small library? Hmmm.

In pondering a polite answer to this question, Ms. Meade called to mind something similar posted on Slashdot, and is heartened that several intelligent points were discussed in that context. Being one to always encourage others in the path of light, Ms. Meade will summarize these intelligent comments and add to them. Read More

Question: Can Disk Replace Tape? Answer: Unobtanium

Dear Ms. Meade,
I am charged with architecting a backup system without any single points of failure. Obviously, tape is SO failure-prone that I am not including it at all. How do you think I should configure such a system?
Tape is Doomed

Dear Doomed,
You are doomed if you rely solely on disk for your data backup.  A possible interpretation of your question may be “How much disk does it take to replace tape?”  The answer is “unobtainium”—that is, you can’t replace tape using disk.

Further, the very concept of single point of failure is terribly funny in a terribly dark way. Failure is inevitable, unless you plan to address human imperfection? What about acts of natural and man-made disaster that may affect the national power grid? Switch problems? What about loose screws, including any screwed-up (or self-perceived screwed over) employee? Read More

Of COURSE We Need 35 TB Tapes

Dear Ms. Ahmogul,
IBM recently announced that it created a 35 TB tape that will be commercially available in five years. Since then I have read articles asking good questions, like ‘Do we need 35 TB tapes?’

An Easy Mark

Dear Mr. Mark,
According to urban legend, in 1981 Bill Gates defended the (then-new) PC’s limited RAM by saying: "640K ought to be enough for anybody." (He denies having said this.)

This legend comes to mind on reading your question: “Do We Need 35 TB Tapes?” (Perhaps in thirty years you may find yourself denying having asked this question.) Read More

Four out-of-the-box reasons to dedupe: notes from the road

January is a tough way to start a year.  I have taken my Christmas decorations down, the Browns didn’t make the Super Bowl again this year, its cold, and the days are still too short.  It isn’t all bad though, as I’ve just returned from a 2-week hiatus of regional sales meetings across the USA. I’ve presented to and heard from Spectra sales reps in Washington D.C., San Antonio, Denver and Orlando.  I have always enjoyed going to regional meetings, especially the afterhours part of it.  I don’t just mean hitting a bar, but often the informal conversations with the Sales Reps and Systems Engineers can be great.   Between the insight I’ve gained from the field and the recent press coverage on various deduplication offerings, it felt like the right time to get into blogging gear and summarize a few out-of the box reasons why you should dedupe.  By now, we all understand deduplication, data reduction and its typical associated benefits and savings.   1.=&0=&. Said another way, everybody’s doing it. Of course, Mom always asked about everybody jumping off bridges, but let’s not go there.  Dedupe isn’t new and scary anymore. It is now widely adopted across all major vertical industries, in big and small corporations, private organizations, etc. It’s become so embraced, your mom may actually be deduping. (Is she running Windows Home Server?) Ask her.   2.=&1=&. This is tightly integrated with #1. Dedupe has been around long enough and integrated in every kind of environment imaginable. IT JUST WORKS.   3.=&2=& Dedupe isn’t just spending less than traditional disk when you buy it.  Operational savings last its whole life, and we have seen how OpEx can affect business during a bad economy.  Dedupe can help with space, support as well as power and cooling costs.   4.=&3=&. A lot of technology with the hype that dedupe has seen fizzle out quickly.  It just can’t be as good as everyone says.  But with dedupe the technology is simply brilliant. The hype is over. It’s tried and true. Dedupe is here to stay.   My two weeks of travel talking to nearly our entire sales force got me more than some much needed frequent fly miles.  I got to hear about the current challenges our customers were facing.  Some things will never change, and tight budgets and backup windows are always on the list.  I heard a lot about organizations struggling with remote sites, multiple environments and tape integration. (Yes, people still wonder about getting some data on tape.)  Spectra nTier addresses all of these needs, plus some.   But don’t just take it from me. Check out this nTier Deduplication product review that was recently covered by InfoStor magazine=&4=& Lab Review: Data deduplication for real tape.

Data Management and the Runaway Horse

I’ve recently returned from the 2010 Storage Visions Conference in Las Vegas and wanted to share a few observations. The highlight of my week in Vegas was the honor of accepting a product of the year award for our TFinity product for Media & Entertainment (M&E) Storage. This is Spectra Logic’s enterprise tape library that stores up to 45PB in a single tape library, and is uniquely suited to broadcast customers with large archive and storage requirements due to high availability, ease of use and scalability. This award marks the first honor for our newest tape library.

At the show, I participated in a

panel discussion Read More

On the eleventh day…

The end is almost here.  We are so close that it once I finish writing this, I am on the road to New Mexico! There aren’t too many rivers or a lot of woods, but I will go over the mountains and through the pass to my parent’s house.      The winter storm will make the 500 mile drive all the more fun, but I have done it many times before.     I doubt I am the only one that is taking the same Christmas trip they have taken before this week. We do a lot of things over and over again:    Workout (once the New Year hits)     pay bills     do laundry     and run backups.    Deduplication reduces the cost and space of doing multiple backups. It is having a big (or small depending on how you look at it) impact for data protection.  Being able to store 10, 20 or even more backups in the space of a one on disk is hard to ignore.  I wish I could dedupe other things, like the 500 miles I am about to drive.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

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On the tenth day…

Containers for stuff are unbelievably handy. Think how difficult it would be to bring home a dozen eggs if you didn’t have an egg carton in which to carry them? Backpacks for books make getting to and from school a lot easier – even if the books are never removed from the backpack! (There’s probably a lump of coal waiting for that kid.) What about jolly ol’ Santa’s ability to make worldwide delivery without his trusty, fur-lined red bag and sleigh? I don’t think the reindeer will be delivering toys to all the girls and boys one at a time, do you? Read More

On the ninth day

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The big day is getting closer, and I am really busy.I even multitask lunch, doing a little gift shopping around noon.  It is amazing how many other people had the same idea.Today I went out and got my parents an external hard drive.(If you know my parents, please don’t tell them.)Like everyone else, digital pictures and other media are becoming important to them, and I want to make sure they have a backup they can take out of the house.(In this case to some one else’s home)While it might not be the most fun gift, it should be very practical, and if their 5 year old computer crashes, they will be able to get the important stuff back.(you can guess what I will be setting up over the weekend). Read More

On the eighth day…

Like your grandma’s holiday fruit cake that’s been re-gifted every year since the dawn of time,

some business files are meant to last through eternity… or close to it. For these files, you don’t need shellac or any of the other odd preservatives used on aforementioned fruit cake. You need an archive.     Uncle Sam and a cast of characters will tell you what kind of data to keep and how long you’ve got to keep it.  However, YOU are the one who gets to put together the Christmas list of storage toys for Santa to squeeze down the chimney.   With that in mind, there are no better toys to put on your Christmas list than Spectra Logic storage products for filing away your archive data. Spectra products are fast, reliable, easy to use, and very economical.  Heck, we’ll even assemble ‘em for you!   =&0=&   =&1=& =&2=& =&3=& =&4=& =&5=& =&6=& =&7=& =&8=&