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Spectra Tape Air Gap Fights Cybercrime

by Fred Moore
President, Horison Information Strategies

The changing landscape of the data protection industry has evolved from backing up data to providing recovery from hardware and network failures, software bugs, and human errors, as well as fighting a mounting wave of cybercrime. Over the years, reliability and resiliency level of hardware and software have significantly improved. Cybercrime, however, has now become a bigger threat to data protection than accidental deletion, bit rot or drive failure. And the stakes are getting higher as anonymous cyber criminals seek to profit from the valuable digital data of others. With a ceasefire in the cybercrime war unlikely, we are witnessing the convergence of data protection and cybersecurity to counter rapidly growing cybercrime threats, including ransomware. Read More

Object Storage and its Role in Long-Term Storage Today

In my last blog, I discussed types of “data movers” including backup, archive, HSM and migration. These are ways to move data, but where are you moving the data to? Disk? Tape? Cloud? A combination of those? The significance of “data mover” applications to an organization’s workflow is closely tied to other elements of their data storage ecosystem, namely storage targets.

Over time, storage targets have evolved from repositories completely “unaware” of the data they hold to hyper-intelligent data management platforms. On one end of the spectrum, more typically found in tier-1 storage, are Storage Area Networks (SANs). These repositories, which are unaware of the data they hold, offer up blocks of storage which a server’s file system or a database administrator must configure into usable storage. With the advent of Network Attached Storage (NAS), storage devices use their own processing power and file system to lay data across blocks – presenting the storage as a folder of files which can be accessed by multiple servers, and even servers with varying operating systems and/or file systems, across the network. SAN and NAS are commonly found in tier-1 data storage, although they can be used in tier-2 storage as well. Read More

Understanding the Nuances of Data Movement in Today’s Complex Systems

It’s 1985. You’re the last one to leave the office that afternoon. You go into the server room, put the 8-inch floppy disk in the drive, go back to your office, type a backup command via the “terminal” on your desk, and now you’re free to go home. Your data is being backed up and safe. One last thing… don’t forget to take yesterday’s backup floppy with you in case the building burns down over night. OK, maybe you worked for a slightly larger company than I did in 1985, but it worked pretty much the same.  There was storage and backup for the storage. We didn’t refer to “primary” storage.  Disk was storage and all floppies, CDs, or tape was backup to that storage. Read More

Mind the Tipping Point: Object Storage versus File Storage

Data is a central part of our day-to-day as a society, from our personal electronic devices, like smart phones and tablets, to our professional lives. Major industries like agriculture, transportation, energy, healthcare and finance, to name a few, all rely on it. Whether you’re working behind a computer or at a job site building houses, digital information is an intricate part of your environment. The intrinsic value of data, be it the intelligence, communication or analysis of it, points to a revolution in how we access, manage and consume it. In order to enable organizations to thrive within the unsurpassed data growth of modern times, storage technologies have evolved accordingly. Read More

BlackPearl Software Updates Enable Intelligent Object Management

Spectra Logic has released a new version of its BlackPearl software, version 5.0. The update, which was announced in a recent press release, introduces several major new enhancements, including object versioning and staging, chunk aggregation, and a host of intelligent object management attributes. The feature-rich software is a key component of Spectra’s BlackPearl® Converged Storage System, a purpose-built storage platform that integrates directly with ”data mover” software applications to simplify workflows, and seamlessly manages large volumes of content to a variety of storage targets, including disk, tape and public cloud. The latest software advancements provide modern data centers with lower storage costs, time advantages, and improved capacity and data integrity.

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The New Enterprise Drive: A Deeper Look into Spectra’s TAOS Feature for LTO Tape Libraries

Spectra Logic expands LTO’s functionality with its Time-based Access Ordering System (TAOS)

When Spectra announced new enhancements for tape storage systems earlier this month, it became clear to anyone paying attention that tape technology is not a thing of the past. Between the Tape Storage Council’s 2018 tape technology memo and recent articles on how tape is changing the game, tape storage systems have generated a lot of buzz. With decades of tape expertise, Spectra continues to release features that leverage tape technology to advance modern workflows. The latest example of this is TAOS or Time-Based Access Order System for LTO drives.

Historically, recalling multiple small files from tape has taken longer than necessary due to the linear way that files are read. Retrieving non-consecutive files from a tape can result in large seek times between file reads due to potentially long distances between files. An LTO-8 tape, for instance, appears as a 200 km long tape, which threads down and back to read data.

Spectra Logic developed TAOS to create an optimal ordering of read requests that results in an up to four times improvement in overall time for files that are less than 100MB in size.

Over the last few years, enterprise tape technologies like IBM’s TS11x0 and Oracle’s T10000 have used similar functionalities to optimize recall times, but this type of tape enhancement has never before been present in LTO-based automated tape systems.  “This is a feature which has been on enterprise tape drives – with a two to three times price premium, but has never been available in open systems tape before,” said Matt Starr, Spectra CTO.

“Before TAOS, recalls from LTO tape were read in the same linear pattern in which they were written,” explains David Feller, vice president of product management and solutions engineering at Spectra Logic. “TAOS enables the software to get the files off of tape in the most logical order. When the system receives a read request, it first determines where each file starts and ends physically on the tape to create an optimal ordering of reads.”

For example, recalling 300 100MB files from an LTO-8 tape would have taken approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes. When using TAOS, the same recall only takes about 55 minutes with the exact same LTO-8 drives and media, making the total tape access and data recall time about three times faster.

In addition to improving performance of restore operations, TAOS reduces wear to tape media and tape drives. The enhancement leads to up to 13 times less tape traveling across the head in the drive for the same files that need recalled.  So the less tape that runs past the head, the longer the tape drive and media will last, improving overall system reliability and reducing costs.

This and the many other tape innovations in development demonstrate the long-term commitment to tape archive technology that Spectra Logic provides to its enterprise customers worldwide. TAOS is a proprietary Spectra logic feature that will be included with the Spectra® T950 and TFinity® ExaScale Tape Libraries.  For existing customers, the feature will also be available through a simple library software update, requiring no additional hardware. TAOS will initially be released with IBM’s High Performance Storage System (HPSS) and HPE’s Data Management Framework (DMF) storage software later this year, with other ISV software packages to follow.

Check out the “Time-Based Access Order System for Increasing File Read Throughput on Tape” white paper to learn more about this development.

Fred Moore, founder and president of Horison Information Strategies, discussed what he learned about Spectra’s tape enhancements first-hand at the 2018 Large Tape Conference here.

Spectra Logic Wraps Up Annual Fiscal Year Sales Kickoff Meeting

Spectra Logic held its new fiscal year Sales Kickoff meeting last week at its Boulder, Colorado headquarters. With more than 300 Spectra associates in attendance, the three-day event engaged team members from all over the world and enabled Spectra management to share our corporate vision for the company’s future.

Team members watch a presentation at the Spectra Logic events center

“Working closely with sales is crucial to the success of our marketing initiatives and enables Spectra to achieve its overarching company objectives to satisfy our customers,” said Spectra Vice President of Corporate Marketing Betsy Doughty. “Holding a Kickoff meeting allows the entire organization to come together to intentionally launch the next 12 months. Team members leave empowered with a renewed sense of commitment.”

Day one focused on discussions about customers and markets; the company’s industry position; and our performance to date. The end of the day highlighted the organization’s top achievers, acknowledging their accomplishments for the year. Day two was dedicated to customer and partner presentations, offering Spectra’s Sales and Marketing organizations a deeper understanding of the unique aspects of these core relationships. The Partner Showcase followed, with team members connecting one-on-one with technology and channel partners, enabling deeper conversations for joint initiatives. Finally, the third and last day of Spectra’s Kickoff Event featured updates from the Spectra Product Management team. In addition, flash talks on recent sales success stories allowed representatives to share how Spectra has helped customers from around the globe meet their most challenging data storage dilemmas. The team also built camaraderie over after-hour gatherings. An all-employee meeting and picnic wrapped up the week. Nathan Thompson, Spectra’s CEO, provided an overview of the year and reiterated the company’s mission to develop, sell and deploy the highest quality and most secure data storage solutions to help our customers collect, use, monetize and preserve society’s digital information forever.

Spectra's Partner Showcase

At the Partner Showcase, Spectra Sales Operations Specialist Brandon Daniels catches up with Brad Painter, vice president of worldwide sales at Strongbox Data Solutions

“With such a rapidly changing market it is incredibly valuable to get the whole team together to talk about what issues customers are facing and what tools we have to help them,” says David Feller, vice president of product management and solutions engineering at Spectra Logic. “As a nimble company, Spectra is constantly adapting to meet the critical needs of our customers and lead the way into the future. With such an incredible set of products and world-class people to back them, it’s a good time to be at Spectra.”



New Tape Enhancements Boost Performance of Spectra Tape Libraries

Spectra Logic announced a number of updates to its enterprise tape library platform in a press release issued today. Designed for environments that must preserve large data sets securely and economically for the long term, Spectra’s enterprise tape libraries now offer improved performance, increased uptime and dramatically lower costs. Customers in government, scientific research, high performance computing, media and entertainment and public cloud environments will experience advanced user access, retrieval, management, and preservation of data with the new features.

Spectra family of Enterprise Tape Libraries

Spectra’s tape library family includes a range of capacity, performance and feature sets.

“Developing tape enhancements of this nature has allowed us to deliver a performance level that is extremely attractive for these types of customers,” says Spectra CTO Matt Starr. “We take a customer-focused approach in developing our technical advancements, working with end users and technology partners on product enhancements that get incorporated into our overarching product updates.”

In addition to today’s tape news, Spectra earlier this year announced the introduction of two new tape libraries, the modular Spectra® Stack and the Spectra® T950V Tape Library an affordable, entry-level model of the popular high-end Spectra T950 Tape Library.

Today’s press announcement also includes a link to a white paper written by Fred Moore, founder and president of Horison Information Strategies. Read the full press release here.

Spectra News Banner on Tape Enhancements and Tape news

Trends in Video Surveillance: Managing Retention Rates and Cybercrime

Marketing Program Manager, Spectra Logic

Video surveillance data storage trends

Over the last few years, the video surveillance industry has seen a boom in the amount of video content being generated. As lengthening retention rates, increasing camera intelligence, greater adoption of analytics, and more content aggregation escalate video storage needs and burden existing systems, many organizations are realizing that the amount of managed digital assets will continue to grow. This means that storage strategies for video content can quickly take up a major part of their budgets. Read More

Supercomputing News from ISC HPC 2018

Supercomputing News from ISC HPC Frankfurt ImageISC High Performance (ISC) 2018 took place earlier this week in beautiful Frankfurt, Germany. One of my favorites, the event brought together an impressive 3,500 attendees, 450 speakers and 150 exhibits. Addressing supercomputing, networking and storage, the conference showcased expert speakers, tutorials, workshops, and exhibits targeted at the global HPC community. Between customer meetings, conference sessions, and catching up with industry peers, we gathered our favorite moments and reflections on the show below.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how to integrate cloud technologies with HPC were overarching themes for the event, and these topics were addressed in many sessions. Conference keynote speaker Dr. Maria Girone, CERN openlab CTO, was an absolute favorite of the week. Dr. Girone discussed the unique needs and future challenges of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and data center. Because of the wide breadth of variables they measure – conditions in the LHC range from millions of times hotter than the sun to almost absolute zero – they collect 1 PB of data per second that has to be filtered and then reconstructed in real time during LHC experiments. Over the next decade, CERN estimates that it will increase compute capacity demand by 50 to 100 times as they prepare to build the next particle accelerator, the “High-Luminosity” Large Hadron Collider.

To make things even more exciting, the new TOP500 list of Supercomputer sites was published at ISC. Oak Ridge National Laboratory displaced China’s Sunway TaihuLight to take the number one spot in the world. Oak Ridge’s new supercomputer, named Summit, boasts 122.30 petaflops!

Discussing the Large Hadron Collider at the Spectra Booth

The Spectra Booth in action at ISC Germany High Performance 2018.

Spectra was fully booked with briefings throughout the week, and meetings ranged from HPC partners like HPSS, HPE/DMF to end users from some of the largest supercomputing sites across the globe. Customers who visited our booth got to hear first-hand about in-progress projects that have yet to be announced to the public in NDA briefings. Most HPC customers that we talked to were very tape savvy and expressed positive feedback regarding Spectra’s new performance enhancements for tape and developments for HPC-specific applications, such as HPSS and Lustre. If you missed us at ISC High Performance and would like a briefing, contact us.

Want more supercomputing-related blog posts? Read “The Role of Multi-Tier Storage in High Performance Computing Environments”.