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Spectra Logic Backup and Archive Blog


CommVault Deal Significantly Lowers the Cost of Data Protection, Management and Access

This week we announced that Spectra Logic has joined forces with CommVault to significantly lower the cost of data protection, management and access. We also announced our certification as a CommVault Technology Alliance Partner.

We are excited to work closely with CommVault to bring customers a joint solution that removes the complexities of tiered storage and provides organizations with a powerful, simplified approach to managing massive amounts of information. This is particularly helpful as organizations worldwide deal with the challenges of cost-effectively managing and protecting data for longer, often indefinite periods of time.

Spectra's nTier Verde disk storage solution delivers simply affordable file storage, and was designed from the ground up as a backup and archive storage platform. When paired with the versatility and capabilities of CommVault Simpana, the user experiences benefits of an optimized disk platform for nearline backup and archive without the costs associated with typical Tier 1 or Tier 2 storage options.

In addition, Spectra's T-Series Tape Libraries are another joint solution option with CommVault Simpana and provide an additional dense, low cost storage tier for long-term data retention. These joint solutions have been tested and validated as part of the Technology Alliance Partner program and are supported by both companies.

Managing and storing massive amounts of data continues to be a challenge for many organizations. For more than 30 years, Spectra Logic has maintained its commitment to helping companies address their data storage challenges with innovative, cost-effective solutions—and our new CommVault partnership gives us new options with which to support our customers' current and future needs.

For more information, view the full Spectra Logic-CommVault press release here.

The Facebook Prototype: Economics of Blu-ray Disc versus Tape Storage

Facebook unveiled a prototype display of a Blu-ray optical disc library at the recent Open Compute Project Summit. The Blu-ray prototype contains approximately 10,000 optical discs and a Petabyte of data in a rack-sized cabinet. The system caught our interest at Spectra Logic, and in my last blog I examined the ability of consumer-driven Blu-ray disc technology to handle commercial data storage applications. In this post, we've taken a look at the specs and approximate costs of a Blu-ray system versus an LTO tape library solution and I think the results are noteworthy.

Format Media:

Blu-ray 100 GB disc

LTO 2,500 GB tape Library Solution

Tape Advantage

Cost per GB




Storage Capacity per Rack

1,000 TB

2,375 TB


Media Cost per Rack



88% less cost

Transfer Rate per Drive



~6x faster

Facebook talked about the need to store an Exabyte of data, so in the table below, we've compared the number of racks (floor space) required and the total media cost for an Exabyte-sized Blu-ray disc solution and an Exabyte-sized LTO tape library:

Format Media:

Blu-ray 100 GB disk

LTO 2,500 GB tape Library Solution

Tape Advantage

Number of Racks per EB



Less than half the floor space

Total Media Cost

$411 Million

$20 Million

95% less cost

Note: This analysis is based on the following assumptions:

  • The cost of the sheet metal, power, fans and robotics required was assumed to be about equal between tape and Blu-ray
  • The cost of the media is based on internet research to find approximate lowest online pricing
  • The cost of the drives is not included because pricing is so variable depending on the source and in the big picture, the drive cost is dwarfed by the cost of the media.

While this analysis isn't exact, even with the assumptions noted above it is very clear that tape is an advantaged media for storing data for long periods of time. Even if you assume Facebook builds its own racks and negotiates pricing for 100GB media that is closer to the cost of 50GB media—the point remains the same—tape delivers significant advantages in cost, performance and floor space. As far as power consumption goes, tape and Blu-ray are about the same because data is stored on media that doesn't require constant power.

And, as I noted in my previous blog post, Blu-ray is a consumer-grade technology and not designed for serious data intensive environments. It is much more likely to incur errors, jammed drives and failed drives than a tape storage system.

Maybe I'm missing some key facts around what caused Facebook to take this approach with their prototype—it might be an interesting discussion to have. Clearly, Facebook has some very smart engineers, but I can't help but wonder why they overlooked tape?

Can Consumer Technologies Meet the Demands of Commercial Data Storage Applications

Over the years we have seen a variety of consumer technologies be deployed for commercial data storage applications. This approach was illustrated most recently at the Open Compute Project Summit with Facebook's prototype display of a Blu-ray optical disc library, which contains approximately 10,000 optical discs in a rack-sized cabinet. This is an interesting approach and one that I'll take a look at from a couple of angles in my next few blogs.

Using current 50TB per disc technologies, a system like this would hold 500TB or half a Petabyte. If Facebook used 100GB write-once discs, the solution could deliver a Petabyte of uncompressed storage per rack, with minimal power consumption. Excluding the cost of the robot and drives, the raw media costs of using 100GB Blu-ray discs works out to be about $0.41 per gigabyte and about $0.046 per gigabyte using 50GB discs. The cost of the Blu-ray disc system using either the 100GB or the 50GB disc is multiples higher than that of an LTO tape storage system, which costs a mere $0.02 per gigabyte.

Equally important, while a Blu-ray disc solution may meet the needs of storing Facebook consumer pictures and video, the real question is—will an approach that relies on consumer technology hold up to the long term demands of high-duty cycle data storage applications?

Over the last 20 years the commercial data storage industry has attempted to commercialize multiple consumer technologies including CD ROM, CD Writeable, DVD writeable, 4mm Digital Audio Tape, 8mm video tape, and VHS video tape—with mixed results. Consumer technologies offer high-volume and typically low cost storage media. The 'low cost' strengths of these technologies have also led to their downfall as they lack the device robustness and data reliability required by commercial data storage applications. In addition, consumer grade drives and media just don't last very long. Blu-ray disc drive load mechanisms are probably good to a few thousand load/unload cycles. This compares with an LTO tape drive that is rated to 250,000 load/unload cycles. As you can see—the difference in durability is substantial!

Facebook touted the space and energy efficiency of its Blu-ray prototype system as compared with standard commercial-grade disk storage, which is often expensive and, unless it can be powered down in "MAID" applications, consumes much more power. While true, this comparison overlooks tape storage solutions, which deliver the most reliable, scalable and cost-effective long term storage in the market.

At Spectra Logic, we've consistently invested in storage technology innovation that ensures we provide our customers with the lowest cost and most reliable storage for long term data retention. Our Enterprise T-Finity and T950 and mid-range T-Series tape libraries deliver features such as integrated data encryption, data integrity verification, media health monitoring, and extremely low power consumption, and are proven to meet the requirements of the most demanding data storage applications.

Tape storage has a proven track record of going the distance in serving commercial data storage environments. And, as I touched on here, tape offers the lowest price points available on the market for storing data for the long-haul.

Stay tuned! I'll provide a comprehensive cost comparison of tape storage versus Blu-ray disc in my next blog.

The New Year is already off to a great start here at Spectra Logic with three recent wins.

Spectra's nTier Verde disk system was selected as a finalist in the data backup hardware category for the 2013 Storage magazine/ Products of the Year award. And last week Spectra Logic was named the 2014 Storage Visions Awards' Visionary Company in Media and Entertainment Storage for the introduction of our Deep Simple Storage Service (DS3), the industry's first native RESTful interface to robotic tape storage systems. Our BlackPearl™ Deep Storage Appliance, which was introduced in October, was also recognized as a finalist in the professional media and entertainment class storage.

The nTier Verde provides simply affordable file storage. Extremely reliable and easy to use, it requires no previous storage experience to deploy and manage and it is half the cost of traditional file storage. We are seeing excellent demand for this product, which integrates seamlessly in environments with Spectra's tape libraries.

DS3 and BlackPearl are part of our new vision here at Spectra—the vision for a low-cost, massively scalable deep storage tier that can store data virtually forever. The 2014 Storage Visions Awards' reaffirms the work we're doing to bring our vision to life with the introduction of the DS3 interface and BlackPearl.

Tom Coughlin, founder of Coughlin Associates

Spectra's BlackPearl Deep Storage Appliance with its DS3 object-based interface is a significant addition to the cloud market that has the potential to change the way organizations of all sizes retain data indefinitely," said Tom Coughlin, founder, Coughlin Associates. "BlackPearl was recognized at this year's Storage Vision conference as an innovative storage solution for cloud-based archiving. Its smooth integration into existing cloud environments and its ability to perform partial data object restores are significant advances for Media and Entertainment organizations."

We're very proud of the Spectra Logic team and the work they've done and continue to do to bring this vision to life— not just for Spectra but for our customers throughout the world. The evolution of storage is just beginning, after all it's just January…