With most businesses experiencing rapid growth of unstructured data the challenge is how to effectively manage it. This data, typically consisting of office application files, email, video, image files, customer data, engineering/architectural drawings, marketing files, etc, is an essential part of the business. Its importance, both now and into the future, demands ever increasing storage capacity. This rapid increase in unstructured data can also place overwhelming demand on most backup processes.
Bear in mind; of this data estimates suggest that over 80% is never accessed again beyond 90 days after creation. The importance of this data often declines rapidly with increasing age while demanding more storage capacity, often on expensive disc solutions.
So how do you manage this data growth in a cost effective way? Just add more NAS capacity? Seems obvious but no, this solution has significant shortcomings. They primarily are;
• COST. Apart from the purchase cost there is the cost of implementation, the ongoing, and significant, cost to power the additional capacity, possible additional cooling cost and the physical space consumed.
• INCREASED COMPLEXITY. Increasing the capacity means there is more data to protect. These greater backup demands increase loads on backup servers, networks and backup target capacity.
• CAPACITY CONSTRAINTS. NAS can only support so much physical capacity. In reality most NAS systems can never reach maximum capacity and as more and more files are added overall performance degrades. Adding more NAS capacity increases the pool of unusable capacity and degrading performance.
The most cost effective data storage solution is tape. Its main attributes being;
• COST: Tape has the lowest cost of any other storage media and a tape at rest doesn’t require any energy.
• RELIABILITY: Tape has proven reliability, a media shelf-life of up to 30 years and a bit error rate 100 times better than disk.
• SPEED. Single drive LTO Generation 6 solutions are able to transfer data at a rate exceeding 400MB/sec.
• PORTABILITY: LTO tapes are durable and large amounts of data can be easily and inexpensively transported.
• SCALABILITY: For example, LTO-6 media can store up to 2.5TB of uncompressed data and 6.25TB of compressed data in a single cartridge. Unlimited capacity is simple, it’s as easy as loading another cartridge.
The ideal solution therefore would be to combine tape and NAS (tNAS). Enter LTFStor.
LTFStor combines a disk front end to a tape library which then presents itself on the network as a typical network share. Utilising the LTFS (Linear Tape File System) open format ensures retrieval of this data is not reliant on a proprietary system that might not be readily available in 5, 10, 20 years from now.
As the data is primarily stored on tape LTFStor manages the disk front end as a cache or buffer. Essentially data is automatically copied to tape in a near continuous process. This supports the speed of access and presents the tape library to the user as a standard file system by users or applications.
The administrator is able to create network shares utilising one or more tapes depending on capacity needs. A process can also be run to create a second copy of each file on a second tape so that it can easily be moved off site for vaulting.
LTFStor delivers the performance of disk with the cost effective properties of tape in one simple scalable solution.
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