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Spectra Logic Backup and Archive Blog

 

Spectra Logic Developer Program and Developer Evangelist

Spectra Logic has entered a new phase in our company’s history. Our unique products have always required us to be both a hardware and software company. But now, for the first time, we are making it easier to store data on our hardware by providing a software interface available to everyone. This means that customers and partners can build their own applications and clients to move data to Spectra's deep storage tape libraries. This could greatly reduce the cost and complexity of storing data in long-term archives. But it also means that Spectra must provide the tools and resources necessary for users to build these software applications.

That's where I come in. I am Jeff Braunstein, the new "Developer Evangelist" at Spectra Logic. After working at Spectra for more than 13 years, I am excited to begin my new role and to help our customers and partners. As Spectra's Developer Evangelist, my job is to be the “Guinea Pig” developer for the Spectra Logic Developer Program. I will be responsible for building clients and tools using our developer resources, ensuring that necessary documentation and examples are provided to build applications, and answering developer questions or providing someone who can. I will work with our Engineering team to make sure our software interface has all the features the developer community needs, and will reach out to the current and potential developer community to demonstrate how to get started and build clients.

Our new software interface is made possible by our BlackPearl™ Deep Storage Gateway. The BlackPearl appliance sits in front of our deep storage tape libraries and allows users to move data using simple HTTP commands. Our command set is called DS3 and is an extension of the S3 storage interface popularized by Amazon®. We provide not only the Application Program Interface (API) for these DS3 commands, but also Software Development Kits (SDKs) in several programming languages to make it even easier to create DS3 clients and applications.

So what are your long-term storage challenges? Could this new, easy way to move data to deep storage help solve your organization's data storage problems?

Send your feedback and questions my way at jeffbr@spectralogic.com or put them in the comments below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Visit the following links to learn more about Spectra Logic's Developer Program, our BlackPearl™ Deep Storage Gateway, and our DS3 Software Interface.

 

2015 Hot Topics: Pulse Check at Industry Events

Spectra Logic CTO Matt Starr shares some of his observations from 2014’s fall/winter tradeshow line up. Matt recently attended and represented Spectra at several global tradeshows, including, IBC (Germany), HUF (Germany), Powering the Cloud (Germany), SC14 (New Orleans), and MEW (UK).

Industry tradeshows and events are a great place to put a finger on the industry's pulse, and get a sense of what next year’s hot topics are likely to be. Although there were many, here are a few of the top trends I spotted while communicating with prospects, customers, partners and peers at IBC, HUF, Powering the Cloud, SC14 and MEW.

The cloud is rolling in
The attitude towards the cloud has shifted. One year ago, cloud adoption was considered a fantastic yet risky innovation that was largely talked of as something for the mid-to-long-term future.  While levels of adoption are still fairly low, there is now a view that cloud based protocols can provide a very interesting storage format. For now, many organizations have opted for testing public cloud solutions to be sure they fit their usage model. As they then move into production they begin to see the need for private and public cloud being used together, or hybrid cloud.  The private cloud is on premise and carries the bulk of the load, while the public cloud is used to cover the extra needs as they arise.

What continues to remain true to me is that tape's fundamental advantages are vital to the cloud. Tape cannot only provide users with a reliable back-up solution, but also gives them another level of protection by negating the risks of logical errors and/or software bugs that destroy online data. Along with cloud based backup, today’s active tape archives are the only viable solution that provides users with tiering, encryption and long term management capabilities.

Big data is still hot
The term big data has resounded off the walls of the IT industry for quite some time now. However, it still continues to be a hot topic. It is indeed a monumental event in IT, one that is changing the way in which businesses behave. The reason it remains in our discussions at conferences around the world is that businesses are still grappling with how to affordably manage and analyze their companies’ vast sets of data.

The industry is finally waking up to the fact that hosting all data online is not viable, both from a cost and a business need perspective. Instead, data needs to be prioritized, or tiered, so that only information that needs to be analyzed at a particular moment in time is selected.

So where does tape come in?

Tape is vital for the safeguarding, analysis and longevity of the data that drives big data. Active archive technology allows big data sets to be copied directly to tape and disk simultaneously, so they are backed up in real-time. Any data that is not 'hot' can be archived inexpensively, and because active archiving means data is indexed in a structured, meaningful and searchable way, it is retrievable in an very short time and stored at near pennies per gig.

More data for the archive
A theme that came up time and time again this fall was data longevity. How can we address the challenges that come with archiving ever-growing data sets for longer periods of time? This is of particular concern for both media and entertainment, medical and video surveillance companies, as they transition to higher resolution technologies. Much of an organization’s data is archival, but needs to be maintained for back-up, disaster recovery, or in the case of surveillance companies, regulatory reasons.

Tape's role in digital archiving continues to be very significant. Digital tape archives are able to smoothly integrate with traditional archive software and media asset management tools, so that data is stored cost-effectively and safely for a long time. This allows for companies with vast quantities of data to affordably that data, saving them time, space and money.

Conclusion
At multiple, global events, I consistently heard that despite recent innovations in technology, tape has continued to play a major role in the data storage industry. Tape and active archive technology stand to benefit from the industry disruptors outlined above. Among all of these trends is a common theme: the amount of data is increasing, and it needs to be interpreted, stored and archived securely. Industry tradeshows continue to be a great vehicle to stay ahead of the industry and to gauge what’s coming through a pulse check.

What do you expect to hear at this year’s event lineup?

Follow me on Twitter @StarrFiles.

5 Reasons Spectra Logic Tape Libraries are Ideally Suited for Media and Entertainment

Spectra Logic has become the de facto standard in Media and Entertainment environments for archival solution offerings, largely due to its dedication to the M&E team and its understanding of this dynamic and unique industry.

To begin with, the Media and Entertainment area of the Spectra Logic website has great testimonials from many large and small companies in the Broadcast, Post Production, and Sports companies, not to mention an M&E storage calculator that converts hours of content to capacity, based on the particular video format used.

But did you know that Spectra Logic has also gone to great lengths to customize its actual tape libraries themselves for the storage and archival of digital video content?

User friendly, Customized Front Panel Touch Screen

Take for example, the ability of most of our tape libraries to customize their front panel displays for content hours based on the generation of media such as LTO-5, LTO-6, etc. used in the library. Unlike typical commercial users, broadcast and M&E users generally talk about their storage in terms of hours of content, not gigabytes, terabytes and petabytes. From the beginning, this is more user friendly.

The degradation of analog and digital tape due to binder hydrolysis, which is the breakdown of binder of magnetic particles to the base of the tape, magnetic eminence decay, which is the weakening of particles magnetic charge over time, and stiction are cause of concerns which have plagued the M&E market for years.

Our Exclusive PostScan Feature

Our answer to these issues can reduce or eliminate these problems. Built into our tape libraries used in this unique industry is our “PostScan” feature which includes FullScan and QuickScan, both of which performs data verification of content written on media, and reduces or eliminates stiction.

Media Lifecycle Management

In conjunction with our MLM feature (Media Lifecycle Management), the library is configured to load tapes that have not been in a tape drive for a programmed period of time. Once the read verification of the media is complete, the scan date with pass/fail is written to the cartridge memory as its ejected and a notification is posted and emailed to the user. The operation will use a Global Spare tape drive if one exists within the library. This feature is automatic with Spectra Certified Media or manually executed with non-Spectra media.

What’s more, is that upon media eject, a check of the tape drive is performed to see if the drive needs cleaning which automatically follows if required before continuing to the next tape.

Media Lifecycle Management records about 40 data points every time a tape is loaded, giving you vital statistical and diagnostic information that helps you proactively manage your tape media.

Redundancy

Several Video Content applications in M&E support high availability features which allow alternate data paths in case of failure of servers, Ethernet and fibre channel switches, etc. Most Spectra Logic tape libraries include redundant connections of tape drive and robotics which will allow uninterrupted transfer of data to/from the library in the unfortunate failure of the data path.

Longevity and Expertise in M&E Archive Environments

One of the main factors our success in the Media & Entertainment industry can be attributed to is the culture of customer intimacy within Spectra Logic, which has a history of taking ownership of issues and driving them to resolution. We are also leaders in this field because of innovation, and the ability for Spectra Logic to quickly adapt to market changes and requirements as a low cost solution to bring about an extremely high degree of responsiveness and availability if and when the need arises.

More questions? Please contact us at +1.800.833.1132 or sales@spectralogic.com

#HPCMatters: Why NCI Chose Spectra Logic to manage Australia's Highest Performance Research Cloud

The National Computational Infrastructure (NCI), located in Acton, an Australian suburb of Canberra, is the country’s well-known national research computing facility. The organization is home to the Southern Hemisphere’s fastest supercomputer, Australia’s highest performance research cloud, and one of the nation’s largest data catalogues. NCI strives to provide Australia’s researchers access to advanced, computational and data-intensive methods, support, and high-performance infrastructure.

NCI was in search of a backup and archive solution that was, among many things, reliable, scalable, cost-effective, and energy efficient. They were looking for a solution that was capable of sustaining the organization’s anticipated data growth, and replacing the aging equipment in their data center. That being said, it was no surprise that Spectra Logic emerged as the obvious choice. Like many of Spectra’s other high-performance computing (HPC) customers, NCI found that Spectra’s T-Series libraries thoroughly addressed all of their organization’s performance, growth and environmental needs. The facility selected two 8-frame and two 4-frame Spectra T950 tape libraries to backup and archive over 5PB of valuable research data. The task was a perfect fit for Spectra Logic - the Deep Storage Experts - as the organization was looking to endure the seemingly impossible task of managing exponential quantities of data.

NCI selected an active archive approach to manage their data, which has proven to operate quite flawlessly. Active archive solutions turn offline archive into visible, accessible extensions of online storage systems, enabling fast, easy access to archived data. Combined with SGI’s rackable servers, SGI DMF and CommVault software, Spectra’s solution provided NCI with dense, high capacity storage for the organization’s cloud installation. “The incorporation of Spectra Logic’s active archive solution provides a platform for storage growth,” said NCI associate director Allan Williams, “It allows us to keep our primary data online and accessible to users, while also increasing the reliability of our stored data across physical sites.” The organization is able to easily scale their storage solution as their data continues to expand, by adding additional frames to their T950 libraries and upgrading their tape and enterprise drive technologies.

This year at the annual Supercomputing expo in New Orleans, LA, Spectra Logic recognizes that #HPCmatters. Stop by booth 617 to take a peek at our T950 tape library and learn more about how Spectra defines, designs and delivers innovative data protection through tape and disk-based backup, recovery and archive storage solutions.

For more information about the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI), read our customer case study.

The Older You Get, the More Nostalgic Birthdays Become

 A 35th birthday is a significant moment in an individual’s life, and even more so in the life of a corporation. As I look back over the past 35 years, Spectra Logic has certainly seen many technologies come and go. However, both innovation and a focus on our customers have kept us not only relevant, but viewed as a technology leader in the storage market.

Although a 35th birthday might make a person feel old… age is not as much an accumulation of years, as it is a reflection of what you’ve done with those years. The constant development and modernization of our products has continuously kept us young. Disk technology is more than 50 years old, tape has turned 60, yet at Spectra we continue to find new and innovative ways of using these mediums to keep them relevant as well. In our 35th year we’ve introduced disk based file storage for half the cost of traditional file storage, we’ve taken tape in to the cloud, and we’ve introduced a new way to deal with exponential data growth through deep storage. 

Today, Spectra Logic is home to over 400 of the most hard-working, dedicated associates the industry has to offer. We are represented in 72 different countries all over the world, with offices located in the US, Australia, and the United Kingdom. We have remained a privately held company since our beginning, which has allowed our employees to develop a greater sense of ownership and inspired them to make their best contributions throughout the years. Among many things, the majority of this company’s success can be attributed to our culture. Spectra employees are dedicated to our customers, our technology, our mission and each other.

If I only have one birthday wish, I would wish for another 35 years of continued growth for Spectra Logic. Throughout this final week of October, we are celebrating yet another record setting fiscal quarter here at Spectra Logic.  I am truly grateful for all of our associates and the continued effort they’ve contributed towards the success of this company.

Happy Birthday Spectra!

Some things get older, we get better…

We have a lot to celebrate these days at Spectra Logic, as October marks our company’s 35th anniversary. After more than a third of a century in existence, and a decade of promoting the tagline “Changing the World of Storage” – Spectra has decided it’s time for a refresh.

With our tape, disk and private cloud offerings, Spectra offers deep storage solutions that solve the problem of long term storage for business and technology professionals dealing with exponential data growth. Hence, we are “Deep Storage Experts.”

Spectra enables affordable, multi-decade data storage and access by creating new methods of managing information in all forms of deep storage—including archive, backup, cold storage, cloud and private cloud.

Today’s modern business objectives present new and unfamiliar challenges when it comes to storing massive amounts of data. Not only is the world’s data expanding to sizes we never truly anticipated, but we are also expected to retain data for longer periods of time, costing companies valuable time and resources.

We have dedicated ourselves solely to storage innovation and providing the most affordable, reliable services available for the past 35 years. Spectra Logic is a company you’ll want to do business with, proven by the largest data users in the world: our customers. 

What better way to tell the story of deep storage than to have our customers tell you in their own words? Check out how Discovery Communications, McDonald’s and NCSA have access to everything they need and why they chose Spectra.

Watch our blog and social networks this month as we celebrate our 35th birthday with trivia, games and prizes.

Managing Exponential Data Archives: Behind NCSA Blue Waters

The following two words can often generate stress and concern for IT administrators: exponential data.  Exponential data means data sets with size and growth rates that exceed the budgets, storage footprint, and personnel resources needed to contain and manage them – especially over extended periods of time.  By 2020, storage growth will accelerate towards 40,000 exabytes and beyond, and avoiding exponential data will no longer be an option.

Creators and users of the largest data repositories on the planet are leading the response to exponential data.  The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), home to Blue Waters, the fastest supercomputer on a university campus and one of the most powerful in the world, recently added 20 PB of storage to its existing Spectra Logic T-Finity tape storage infrastructure.

Exponential data requires enormous scalability, performance, and reliability if it’s going to be harnessed productively.  The NCSA T-Finity deployment was originally designed to house up to 500 PB of data while reading or writing data to 244 TS1140 Technology Tape drives at an aggregate rate of 61 gigabytes per second.  This combination of tape library automation and tape drive performance provides NCSA the storage scale, performance, and reliability it needs while delivering an economically rational solution that would be impossible to achieve with disk.

By adding 20 PB of storage to its Spectra T-Finity libraries, NCSA is ensuring it can fully meet the exponential data requirements of its most demanding users.  For the scientists and researchers who depend upon the computing power and deep storage of the Blue Waters solution to model, design, and discover the most complex systems and theories known to mankind, NCSA and Spectra Logic have ensured that unchecked exponential data need not be cause for concern.  

For more information about NCSA’s Spectra Logic solution, visit: http://spectralogic.com/bluewaters

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.

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