Skip to content

Spectra Logic Backup and Archive Blog

 

Behind the Curtain: Why Spectra Archives the UK's Largest Supercomputer

The age of unlimited data is certainly upon us.  Data stores in the Petabyte range are becoming common and Exabyte configurations are not unheard of.  Consequently, the need to store, manage, protect, retrieve and use data at these scales quickly, efficiently and reliably has never been greater.

Storage vendors are being pressed to meet these needs across a variety of applications and use cases.  Fortunately for data users, Spectra Logic is answering the call and doing so with Enterprise Class libraries in a smaller footprint.  The United Kingdom’s fastest super computer, a Cray XC30 system was chosen for the Advanced Research Computing High End Resource (ARCHER) project, conducting 1,367 Tera-FLOPs, at the University of Edinburgh’s Parallel Computing Centre is an example in which Spectra’s T380 Enterprise Library was a perfect fit. If you missed it, see the press release issued earlier this week.

The performance and capacity requirements of a supercomputer application such as ARCHER require storage solutions to be easy to manage, scalable, economical and highly reliable.  If they don’t provide those qualities, they can divert valuable resources and attention from the truly important tasks of high quality research like that enabled by ARCHER.

Spectra’s focus on delivering tape solutions that meet these requirements is long-standing.  The T380  Enterprise Library’s BlueScale management interface makes administrative tasks seamless and simple while providing the data integrity, and hardware and media health checking services required to ensure long-term reliability of the data generated by ARCHER.   In addition, the T380’s high density, TeraPack architecture gives the ARCHER team unlimited growth potential serving them well into the future.  These enterprise attributes, packaged in a smaller library form factor, were ideal for a high performance user like ARCHER.

Capacity, speed, manageability, efficiency and economics are driving factors for supercomputing environments like ARCHER that create new knowledge and further all manner of valuable research projects.  Storage solutions supporting these efforts should ensure that users achieve the objectives they set.  The Spectra Logic T380 Enterprise Library was weighed, measured and found ideal for supporting the University of Edinburgh’s Parallel Computing Centre and the ARCHER project’s goals.

On The Road Again: nTier Verde Road Show

I spent the past few months traveling across the country to introduce Spectra Logic’s newest nTier Verde disk-based file storage system to the marketplace. The nTier Verde was created to provide simply affordable file storage for long-term backup and archiving needs and is available in two models, Verde 2U and Verde 4U, ranging in sizes from 24TB up to 1.7 PB of raw storage.

The purpose of the road show was to give our existing and future customers, as well as key VARS, VS integrators and partners, a first-hand look at the system and help them better understand the simplicity, value and experience of the nTier Verde.  Many were impressed with the product’s ease of use and liked that we have disk and tape to offer as an integrated backup and archiving solution.

The road show was a success, and here’s a snapshot of the stats:

  • 3 months
  • 23 cities
  • Hundreds of attendees and new Verde registrations
  • 13,852 miles and 0 accidents or tickets

I met some great people and was able to effectively demonstrate the value of nTier Verde first-hand in numerous locations. In addition to the business part of my trip, I have a few other observations and words of wisdom for anyone else planning a cross country road trip:

  • Peacocks roam free along the interstates in Florida.  Seriously, I saw a peacock spreading her feathers 10 feet from the edge of the freeway!
  • Snowstorms are for real in April in DC!
  • Phoenix has a really good tattoo artist.
  • It’s a long way across Texas no matter which direction you take!
  • The nTier Verde is as “rock solid” as we message it.  It can sustain a lot of abuse….I will not elaborate here, but trust me: it can take a licking and keep on ticking. 

For a real-world example of the new nTier Verde in action, check out this case study of Tandy Supercomputing Center who is using it to ease the load on their primary storage systems.

Professional Services Blog: Key Steps to a Successful Tape Library Installation

The systems engineers on Spectra Logic’s Professional Services team have many responsibilities from project management, to pre-sales activities and post-sales activities.  When it comes to post-sales activities, one of the biggest responsibilities is performing hardware installations of our tape libraries at customer sites.

Below is a checklist of requirements end users should ensure vendors offer when they are shopping for a tape library. This is designed as a resource to know what to expect and a reference through the installation process of your new hardware.

  • Vendor provides dedicated point of contact in support, sales and shipping.
  • Thorough site survey to outline all aspects about your unique architecture.
  • Pre-arrival discussion to outline everything from physical clearance for the install, power requirements, switch configurations, HBA configurations, network connectivity, and logistics. 
  • Upon arrival on site, vendor will perform an inventory check to ensure all appropriate items have been shipped.
  • Conduct the physical installation of the equipment using laser levelers to confirm that the equipment is installed with within tolerance of slope and alignment.

Spectra Professional Services team conducts a customer installation

 

  • Equipment will be evaluated to verify that code levels, host, drivers and firmware are up to date. 
  • Run an overnight test and conduct performance tuning and adjustments.
  • Host integration and burn testing.  This process is typically conducted overnight for the engineer to have a baseline of logs for the next day.
  • Training over the remote management and the hardware will occur the second day.  This training will cover all aspects of the BlueScale interface along with all FRU parts replacement.    
  • When the installation is complete, the customer should receive a trip report summary of activities completed by the installing engineer outlining all items performed during the install and recommendations for their records.

At Spectra Logic, we give this attention to detail in our thorough, methodical installation process for all products to ensure exceptional customer satisfaction.  We take pride in providing the best professional services support for our customers and will go the extra mile to ensure the success of the implementation.

If you have any questions for Spectra Logic Professional Services, please email us at professionalservices@spectralogic.com, or call us at 1-800-833-1132.

EMC World 2014: A Sure Bet for Spectra Logic

Last week, we attended our third EMC World in Las Vegas since becoming an EMC Select (Technology Connect) partner in the beginning of 2012. In comparison to past events, this year’s EMC World proved to be our best to date by yielding higher quality, deeper and more candid conversations with storage decision makers, better attendance at our presentations in the EMC Technology Connect booth, and an award that might surprise you.

EMC World kicked off with an extremely good vibe for Spectra Logic as we joined other EMC Technology Connect partners in the Technology Connect booth for their award ceremony on Monday night. It was an extremely proud moment for Spectra Logic when, out of 46 Select Business Partners, we were asked to come up and receive the first award of the night, “EMC Technology Connect Select Partner of the Year!”

As the week progressed, I had two opportunities to present in the Technology Connect booth on “Tiered Storage in the Data Center.” These presentations were even more well attended than the presentations I gave in their booth last year and they teed-up some great dialogue with the attendees afterwards.

Spectra Logic presenting at EMC World 2014

In comparison to the last two years of attending EMC World, more and more booth visitors were already familiar with Spectra Logic. This year, as the quality of our booth conversations improved, we were able engage in much deeper discussions about the storage needs of the attendees and how tape fits into today’s data center infrastructures.

All in all, it was a good week for Spectra Logic. Even if you gambled at the casino tables and lost, it would be hard not to leave Las Vegas feeling like a winner when you are recognized as “Partner of the Year” by a storage powerhouse like EMC!

Annual Bring Your Child to Work Day is A Success!

Once a year the children of the Spectra Logic team get a glimpse into what their parents do all day long at work. At this year's Bring Your Child to Work Day, 65 kids attended and were treated to a day of education and memorable experiences. Some of the highlights included:

A fire safety demonstration

Bring Your Kids to Work Day Image 1

A tour of the Spectra Logic facility

Bring Your Kids to Work Day Image 2

A game room break

Bring Your Kids to Work Day Image 3

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.

Tape Stronger Than Ever at 2014 NAB Show

Another great NAB Show is in the books. The show was one of the best for Spectra Logic with a lot of enthusiasm around our nTier Verde, tape systems, and new products.

The energy and appetite for low cost archive storage was at an all time high driven by 4K, and 8K content, greater frame rates, and the continuous explosion of new media. Storage tiering was talked about heavily as people had to focus on cost effective ways to manage their growth. As a result, it was clear that tape is stronger than ever!

Spectra Logic Booth at NAB Trade Show

One theme that was prevalent was market consolidation. Whether it's Belden buying Grass Valley, who had already acquired Miranda who had already gobbled up Omnibus, or Harris Broadcast splitting off to become Imagine Communications, or Masstech acquiring PlayBox to expand their portfolio and deepen their stronghold on workflow automation and Playout in the commercial TV space. The consolidation trend seems to be picking up steam and not subsiding so we expect the mergers and acquisitions to continue.

Surprisingly, one thing that was talked about less this year than the past couple years was the use of cloud. While Amazon had a big presence at the show, folks visiting the Spectra Logic booth didn't talk much about cloud as an option, at least not as a replacement for their in-house archives. For better or worse, more adoption or less, the cloud craze seems to be dying down a little. Its place in the market appears to be settling in with more understanding of its benefits and pitfalls.

Overall, it was a great show for Spectra Logic and we look forward to seeing what surprises the next year brings!

Professional Services Blog: Saving precious memories through long term archiving

As the proud new owner of a pair of 7-week old male Boxer puppies (or "Boxer Daddy" as a friend of mine amusingly called me), I have begun to understand the importance of safeguarding those precious early moments captured digitally for posterity. Watching them play daily, grow up and mature are the memories I most definitely want to keep. This is in many ways no different than Spectra's customers in business, healthcare, scientific research or broadcast & media, where transactions, patient records, research data, TV & film content, or indeed entire national archives need to be kept safely for the very long term.

In my travels during the last five years with Spectra, I've been lucky enough to visit some amazing customer sites, each of which have pressing needs to preserve and archive long-term data. From cutting edge research facilities looking for illusive particles, to TV, Sports and News companies, and sites archiving a whole country's TV, history & culture, often the data they wish to preserve is precious, irreplaceable or simply would cost too much to reproduce. In academic research, which is often enabled by grants, the funding bodies now require that expensive research data be retained indefinitely.

This is where tape is very important.

Each of these customers has chosen Spectra to safeguard and protect their most precious asset—long-term data or content.

Just like me with my puppies, that's a lot of responsibility—and one that we at Spectra take very seriously. Our tape solutions offer DIV (Digital Integrity Verification), ¬†Media Lifecycle Management (MLM), Drive Lifecycle Management (DLM) and together with Spectra Certified Media we do everything we can to protect customers long-term archive data and content.

At any time we can simply run a report and immediately know the full health of our archive giving much needed piece of mind to the archivists. Our nTier Verde disk solution similarly offers triple parity, higher quality disks and a file system designed to prevent even the slightest bit-rot. Used together with archiving software, Spectra has the solutions to help these customers preserve data for the long-term.

Many of us store our precious life-time memories and photos in the cloud, and here again behind the scenes a lot of the largest cloud providers are using tape. Tape offers the lowest cost/GB for long-term reliable storage and fast recovery should disaster strike.

For me, knowing that I've helped preserve scientific and memorable content is a bonus, and getting to see where the research is done, be it particle colliders and anti-matter generators in Switzerland, live and whacky news feeds in TV news stations, bio-genomic research centres sequencing the human genome, movie special effects guys creating stunning effects for the next big summer block-buster, all of them have been exciting places from which I have great memories that I too wish to preserve.

On that note, back to photoing my boys Tobie and Reggie as they rapidly grow up.  Here's a picture or two.

boxer puppies boxer puppies


 

Note: In a future article, we'll cover some of the extraordinary lengths Spectra goes to whilst installing new archiving solutions.

Channel Recognition Highlights Spectra Logic's Storage Leadership and Innovation

From a channel perspective, 2014 is off to a good start for Spectra Logic with our recent industry recognition from CRN Magazine. For the 5th consecutive year, Spectra Logic's SpectraEDGE program has been awarded a 5-Star rating in the CRN 2014 Partner Program Guide. This program rating recognizes "an elite subset of companies that offer solution providers the best partnering elements in their channel programs."

In addition, Betsy Doughty, the company's senior director of marketing, was named one of CRN's 2014 Channel Chiefs last month. This is the fourth year in a row that Betsy has been named to this prestigious list of the most powerful leaders in the IT channel. It recognizes executives "directly responsible for driving channel sales and growth within their organization, while evangelizing the importance of the channel throughout the entire IT Industry."

These recent announcements underscore our efforts to deliver the most innovative storage solutions via our channel partners.

In 2013, we continued our global expansion into new territories that are seeing significant growth for the company and the regions of Asia Pacific and Japan are a strong focus for us in 2014. We've also made an investment in targeting resellers in specific vertical markets, such as media and entertainment and HPC.

A large part of our success has stemmed from an effort to re-invigorate tape storage for large enterprises. Last fall, Spectra Logic unveiled its vision for a low-cost, massively scalable 'deep storage' tier that can store data virtually forever.

According to Spectra Logic CEO Nathan Thompson, "There is a transformation occurring in how organizations amass, use and store long term data that necessitates a new tier of storage—deep storage—that delivers extreme low cost, power efficiency, high density and massive scalability."

Spectra Logic introduced a new long-term data management and migration technology and product that allow low-cost and scalable data archiving to tape and the cloud without concerns about format changes over time. DS3, the new interface, takes advantage of the RESTful interface to manage the data transfer process to new media formats, and BlackPearl, which supports the new DS3 interface, allows data to be stored and managed as if it were on a NAS system for only 9 cents per GB in a 6.4-petabyte system.

We also introduced nTier Verde, the fourth generation of the nTier disk line, to address data growth, regulatory and backup challenges. Verde provides affordable file storage with simple installation, an intuitive user interface for effortless management, and architecture that assures the highest level of data integrity.

With these new products and recent awards, we remain committed to providing our channel partners with the most innovative data storage and archiving solutions and ensuring they have what they need to succeed and profitably grow their businesses.

Tape Archive Solutions Stand the Test of Time for Long Term Data Retention

There's been an interesting debate in the industry the past few weeks on the merits of Blu-ray discs versus tape-based storage solutions for long term data retention and archiving. This debate stemmed from Facebook's prototype display of a Blu-ray optical disc library at its recent Open Compute Project Summit. Facebook's Blu-ray prototype is designed to store "cold storage" data, such as duplicates of its users' photos and videos that Facebook keeps for backup purposes, and which it assumes will rarely if ever be accessed.

With the inherent advantages of tape media, Facebook's deployment of Blu-ray discs for commercial grade archiving is an interesting choice and sparked some notable industry commentary—as highlighted in a number of articles, including Forbes and SearchStorage.com as well as a couple of blogs by our interim CMO, Bruce Kornfeld, Can Consumer Technologies Meet the Demands of Commercial Data Storage Applications and The Facebook Prototype: Economics of Blu-ray Disc versus Tape Storage.
The SearchStorage.com article cites a good number of industry analysts who overwhelmingly view tape storage as superior to Blu-ray for long term storage.

Given this, I wanted to touch on why this is the case and what today's tape solutions deliver in terms of data security, integrity, media health monitoring, as well as economic advantages that give tape storage the edge over Blu-ray, hard disk drives and other media when it comes to long term data retention.

Tape storage technologies have evolved substantially the past five to ten years. At Spectra, we've worked tirelessly to lead innovation and challenge expectations of the data protection market with intelligent, integrated, and simple to use backup and archive technologies. Our suite of T-Series tape libraries range from high capacity Enterprise class libraries, such as the T-Finity and T950, to smaller SME-focused libraries, such as the T380 and the T50e. We offer high capacity TS1140 and open standard LTO media options, have the capability to offer block, file and object storage on our tape systems; and can sell long term storage for under $0.10/GB LIST pricing.

Spectra's archive and backup data storage tape products support all aspects of secondary storage, are compatible with every major tape and disk format, and provide a plethora of advanced features that ensure the data is protected, its integrity is maintained and that it will be available virtually forever. Some of these features include:

  • Integrated Data Encryption – provides the security of AES-256 bit encryption to secure data against accidental or malicious breaches without added cost or complexity of an external key manager.
  • Data Integrity Verification (DIV) – ensures the integrity of data as it's written as well as at any time in the future by verifying the data has not suffered silent cor ruption while inactive.  For archive purposes, periodically checking data integrity provides users the ability to mitigate potential data error issues before they become significant read problems or result in data loss.
  • Media Lifecycle Management (MLM) – constant health status checks and reports on the media inventory which is often the largest cost component of a solution. Combined with drive lifecycle management (DLM) that provides similar health status checks and reports on drives, MLM allows users to mitigate both media and drive issues before they become job stopping read / write problems or result in data loss.
  • Investment Protection inherent in the LTO Roadmap – lengthy history and future public roadmap gives users the ability to reliably plan technology refreshes and to depend upon long-term support and availability of drive and media technology deployed in their environments.

In addition, tape drive technologies have advanced greatly in the past few years as well. When it comes to data retrieval times, I think most people would be pleasantly surprised to know that a tape drive can access cold storage/archived data in about a minute on average.

At Spectra, we're building archiving solutions that will stand the test of time and allow companies to store their data virtually forever. Not only does tape storage have a proven track record of going the distance in serving commercial data storage environments, its long term viability and roadmap are strong and well defined. In the vast majority of use cases, for successful long term archiving, we'd certainly put our money on tape!

More Entries