Interview: Spectra Logic and Deep Storage Solutions for Massive Data

The storage of enormous amounts of data on tape is no easy task in a time of extreme data growth. Spectra Logic tackles this problem head on with its BlackPearl Storage that easily stores the data forever at a minimal cost. We sat down to learn more with Spectra’s Kevin Dudak, Senior Product Manager.

insideBIGDATA: Spectra recently introduced the industry’s first native REST-based interface to deep storage, DS3, and the BlackPearl Deep Storage Appliance, which together enable the archival of large amounts of bulk data. Could you tell me more about that?

Kevin Dudak: DS3 is, as you said, the first native REST-based interface to deep storage. It is the cornerstone of our vision for delivering deep storage solutions for customers grappling with ways to cost effectively store massive volumes of long term data. Before DS3, modern applications using RESTful, object-based architectures could not directly access tape storage and thereby receive the associated benefits (lowest cost, highest density, most power efficient, best longevity, portability) because tape did not have the ability to communicate using RESTful protocols. By leveraging RESTful protocols, the DS3 interface enables modern architecture frameworks to easily and efficiently communicate with massively scalable deep storage technologies, and allows data-intensive organizations to utilize the highest density, most cost-efficient storage for long-term data retention and accessibility.

Spectra’s BlackPearl Deep Storage Appliance supports DS3 and provides a way to move data seamlessly into mass tape storage in a way not previously possible – making it easy for new data center architectures to store large data objects on tape via a RESTful interface. BlackPearl enables users to deploy a tier of deep storage that is cost effective, easy to manage and scalable to Exabytes of data. With BlackPearl’s DS3 interface and embedded tape management software, enterprises can literally store all of their data forever at costs as low as pennies per Gigabyte.

insideBIGDATA: It seems tape is really getting a chance to reinvent itself in the age of Big Data; could you expand on that a little more? 

Kevin Dudak: Yes, in a time when IT teams are struggling with explosive data growth, tight IT budgets, and a common mindset of ‘save all your data forever,” we’re seeing a clear shift toward tape technologies because of their unrivaled economic and capacity advantages. Big Data is shedding a whole new light on tape – extending its use beyond traditional backup and landing it a valuable role in near-line, active archive, cloud and other storage infrastructures emerging to meet the demands of Big Data.

insideBIGDATA: For what organizations might tape storage (and in particular, deep storage) be useful? 

Kevin Dudak: Deep storage, and tape library-based storage in general, benefit organizations that are looking to incorporate low-cost, high-density, scalable storage into their fast-growth data environments. Industries that recognize the value and regularly rely on tape storage include education, federal and state government, finance, life sciences, media and entertainment, oil and gas exploration, and Web 2.0, among others.

These industries depend on the types of advanced storage technologies inherent in Spectra’s T-Series family of tape libraries that help our customers solve long-term data retention challenges. And as these types of organizations contend with the skyrocketing requirements and cost of storing long-term data, tape’s unique cost advantages and ability to meet demands for reliability, speed, capacity and ease of use position it as a clear choice for many of today’s toughest storage challenges.

insideBIGDATA: But you have offerings beyond tape too, correct? Could you tell us about those? 

Kevin Dudak: Yes, our most popular non-tape product is the nTier Verde – the first disk product for simply affordable file storage. nTier Verde offers the highest levels of data integrity and ease of management, is scalable for long-term backup and archive file storage, and remains affordable throughout the life of the system. At the core of the Verde is its simplicity. With this product, we took a different direction with disk; rather than focusing on feature rich, complex products, Verde focuses on targeted features – ultimately leading to a more intuitive product that is easier to use and service, and that promotes long-term stability.

insideBIGDATA: How might enterprise companies benefit from tape storage solutions, including the latest DS3, BlackPearl and nTier Verde offerings?

Kevin Dudak: There are five key benefits enterprises gain across the board with these products:

  • Lowest costs to store data.
  • Easiest ways to move, store and access bulk data – no storage specialists required.
  • Easy to install, integrate and manage.
  • Most secure and reliable ways to store data.
  • Most scalable long-term storage options available – easily expand to Exabytes and beyond, and designed to keep data indefinitely.

insideBIGDATA: I see a common theme across your product lines – affordable, high capacity, high quality storage. Good selling point. How do you go about delivering on this?

Kevin Dudak: With tape, affordability and capacity come with the package. Tape is the undisputed lowest cost storage available today. An example of this was cited in a Tape Storage Council memo where the TCO for a LTFS-based ‘Tape as NAS’ solution was 84% less than for a hard disk drive unified storage system. Tape is also the leader in capacity; there is no other storage medium that can store 3.6 Exabytes of data with a single unit, let alone for the long periods of time organizations need to store it these days.

With Verde, we are able to offer disk at half the cost of traditional file storage through a combination of high capacity (up to 1.7 Petabytes per system) and the smart selection of components to keep cost down by removing unneeded components. Organizations also save money due to its intelligent scaling, compression, and reduced management overhead.

Quality and customer satisfaction are a top priority for us, and we consistently rank very high in our customer surveys in these areas. Our customer support teams are knowledgeable and responsive, and to guarantee superior quality for our customers, we manufacture most of our backup and archive storage products onsite at our Boulder, Colo.-based headquarters.

insideBIGDATA: This seems to be pretty cutting edge stuff. What can we look forward to from Spectra Logic?

Kevin Dudak: Spectra Logic has been delivering first-to-market, innovative storage solutions for more than 30 years. It’s exciting to play such a large part in helping tape and disk evolve over that time to fit new market demands resulting from such trends as Big Data. All I can say is we’ll never stop innovating and looking for that next big market, so stay tuned.

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