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Permabit archives your bulk data

Very scalable. Very, very protected

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Where do put your archive data, those masses of unstructured and semi-structured files that you can't throw away but must keep online just in case? Should it go on bulk SATA disk tiers in primary drive arrays or on dedicated archive arrays?

Permabit says put it on dedicated and highly intelligent arrays, a Permabit Enterprise Archive system, like its recently announced 4010, using commodity SATA drives. Such centralised bulk archive storage is sharable; cheap, at less than $1/GB; can hold petabytes of data; and be reliably secured and protected.

We talked to Permabit's chief technology officer Jered Floyd about the 4010 and its capabilities. It seems to us that a starting point for a Permabit archive is value. It can cost $40 to $50/GB to store data on primary arrays and 60 to 80 per cent of it is static semi- and un-structured information.

Permabit makes archive silos for unstructured data that are accessible through standard NFS and CIFS protocols, not specialised APIs which characterise some content management systems. It requires a data moving application. Permabit provides the archival storage platform, not archiving software, partnering with vendors such as Atempo, CommVault, Symantec, ZLTechnologies, and others for specific archiving software applications. End users can also send files directly to the archive using file access protocols.

The store's scalability is provided by separating the access functions from the storage functions. Both are independently scalable. The default 4010 access node consists of a high-availability pair of quad-core Xeon 5400 servers with specialised software to present NFS and CIFS personalities and fingerprint data. If higher access performance is needed, there can be additional access nodes. These access nodes carry out encryption and decryption functions.

The storage nodes consist of quad-core Xeon 5400 processors and four 1TB SATA hard drives, a ratio of one core per drive. These nodes can be aggregated together with up to 36 in a grid with a raw capacity of 144TB. Grids can be further aggregated together, with a maximum of 32 grids combining to provide 4.6PB of raw storage capacity.

These storage nodes carry out data indexing and routing. They are self-healing and provide virtualised storage management Have a 5400 core per drive gives Permabit a seriously high processing to data storage ratio. It means Permabit can do a lot to protect drives and nodes and virtualise the storage pool. "Having one core per drive provides substantial benefits in reducing the impact of rebuild performance," Floyd said.

Permabit can also ride the Intel processor development curve. Asked about this, Floyd said: "The price/power/performance ratios for multi-core processors means it makes sense to include them in the storage nodes to support future software innovations."

What about Nehalem? "We plan to use Nehalem technology in our next platform later this year." Great. Expect a doubling of performance, meaning that there will be a substantial amount of additional processing headroom and faster processing of the current Permabit archive operations.

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