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Tape eats dust of spinning rust, says object data biz

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Object storage suppliers tend to look at tape storage like a real ale fan looks at cheap fizzy lager: "I'm not going to touch that!"

Object storage suppliers such as Caringo, Cleversafe, HDS, ByCast (NetApp), Scality and others boast that their technology is self-healing and more scalable than file-system-based approaches. Many object suppliers, such as Caringo say it replaces tape storage. Caringo, for example, claims that Symantec's Enterprise Vault integrated with its CAStor object storage is up to 40 per cent less expensive in total cost of ownership terms than Enterprise Vault integrated with tape.

Yet object storage is disk-based and disk cartridges cost more per GB than tape cartridges. The Caringo claim is opposed by numerous others saying tape is cheaper than disk, such as this one (PDF) from the Clipper Group. That study says:

Disk is more than 15 times more expensive than tape, based upon vendor-supplied list pricing, and uses 238 times more energy (costing more than the all costs for tape) for an archiving application of large binary files with a 45 per cent annual growth rate, all over a 12-year period.

If you want to store low access rate objects on tape then you may have a hard time as ordinary backup products won't back up objects. There is a point product however, and HDS has integrated it with the Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) object storage product.

Seven10 Storage Software

One of the go-to products for object backup is StorFirst Apollo from Seven10 Storage Software.

HDS Seven10 StorFirst Apollo

HDS Seven10 StorFirst Apollo schematic

The StorFirst Apollo runs in a dedicated Windows Server and reads objects from one or several HCP arrays via a replication process, then writes them onto any standard tape library or Virtual Tape Library (VTL) across Fibre Channel, iSCSI or SCSI links for off-line vaulting. Restored objects travel in the other direction. There is more information here (PDF).

As object stores scale from billions to trillions, it seems obvious that a significant proportion of the stored objects will become inactive, yet may still have to kept. Putting them into an offline tape archive has to be cheaper than keeping them on spinning rust.

FileTek

StorHouse from FileTek is software that can store objects on tape. It is actually storage virtualisation software that represents a collection of different storage elements as a single storage resource, whether they are on disk or tape. It can archive, retrieve and backup data, lots and lots of relational database and file data on disk and tape storage and uses object technology on the tape side.

StorHouse

Spokesperson Ann Dyball says: "Absolutely we deal with objects on tape... and we’ve been around for a long time... people like Deluxe films, most of the Genomics institutions in the US, AT&T, MTN, etc, etc, use us. Because we are object-based there are many advantages, including the speed we can deliver data... We abstract tape as so it looks like disk."

Find out more here (PDF).

There is no integration between object storage disk products – such as Caringo's CAStor and FileTek – that is similar to the HCP-Seven10 integration. But, no doubt, such integration could be carried out if there was a market for it. That depends on object storage becoming more popular. If it does, then Seven10 and FileTek could find their products and technologies being used to lower inactive object retention costs. ®

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