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Active archiving is getting a lot of attention these days as end users seek to relieve the tremendous pressure on primary storage from relentless growth of unstructured data. Like the pain from a toothache, they just want it to go away. The solution lies in extending the existing file system with active archive software across all storage pools and moving seldom accessed or totally dormant files from primary storage to a more cost-effective economy tier such as tape.
I promised the Active Archive Alliance team a blog on my experiences of selling Linear Tape File System (LTFS) solutions a year after the process began. I am a little late – as QStar started selling LTFS in August 2012. For those people who have not heard of LTFS, it is an industry standard file system for tape that provides media portability between operating systems and software vendors. It stores the file metadata in a separate partition on the tape media, allowing it to be “self-describing,” so when you import the media into an LTFS system, the data can be read just like a USB flash drive.
Last month, you probably saw the deluge of articles on “the cloud’s worst nightmare” as news broke that Nirvanix, a cloud provider, was closing its doors and pulling the plug from its data centers. What complicated the situation for service providers and customers who stored data in the Nirvanix public cloud was that they only had a few weeks to move hundreds of terabytes elsewhere.
In 2010, the Active Archive Alliance was founded with the goal of aligning the education and technologies needed to meet the rapidly evolving requirements for data management in a digital age. Archives as a static repository disconnected from transactional storage has been demonstrated to be no longer the only way to deal with burgeoning data growth. Instead, the goal was to build a consortium of expert storage vendors to help introduce and guide customers through this expanding market called active archiving as well as provide solutions and services to assist with its implementation.
Being a member of the Active Archive Alliance, and being at a company that offers a full range of data protection storage offerings, I get involved in many discussions surrounding the myriad strategies for protecting and retaining data. Historically these discussions have focused on which storage and data mover technologies offer the best fit for the tiers of storage a user has already identified they need. But more often than not, today’s conversations appear to be taking on a new color.
Wow, just when you think that VMworld couldn’t get any bigger and more impressive—it did! This truly is the “show-of-all-shows” for the IT industry and has even morphed into “the defacto” storage convention as well. I don’t believe that there wasn’t a single storage vendor (big or small) that wasn’t somehow present at the show. And, as usual, this is the show to make your company’s big announcements—probably the most interesting was Pure Storage’s $150M E-Round and an announcement that they will be pursuing an IPO strategy.
Week after week, file after file, IT administrators have a never-ending list of data protection challenges: ever-shrinking backup windows, ensuring DR resiliency, and meeting important service-level agreements (SLAs), to name a few. In fact, the explosion of data across the digital universe causes 93 percent of IT pros to struggle with corporate data control. And the amount of business data requiring long-term protection is not slowing down anytime soon. While businesses can benefit from new insights based on big data analysis, the massive data volumes created by advanced technology and applications put significant strain on backup and storage resources.
There are a number of significant advantages of using an active archive, but without a cost advantage an active archive might not be considered. The status quo is difficult to change. A number of active archive companies and analysts (such as Clipper Group) have recently analyzed the cost savings associated with implementing an active archive, and the savings are considerable.
The term “enterprise” has a variety of meanings in the business world. In IT, enterprise products often include a comprehensive solution that is depended on across all business operations and used by a large number of people. Why would a company need an enterprise solution? Here are a few reasons:
- Different organizational units working on projects for a common business goal
- Various departments need access to the same business data
- The business and IT strategies encompass multiple geographic locations
- The organization’s business offering is used by a wide variety of clients
Healthcare organizations are often encouraged to implement a VNA (Vendor Neutral Archive) as an enterprise repository for their medical imaging data. The idea is simple; migrate DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) imaging data archived in departmental PACS (Picture Archiving and Communications System) applications into a PACS VNA. The belief is that a VNA will greatly reduce data migration efforts when a PACS solution is refreshed while providing a single point of DICOM access to consolidated data.