As IT technologies come and go, storage administrators who wonder whether data stored in digital tape archives will still be usable and/or easily accessible 20, 30 or 50 years from now don't have to think about that anymore. Digital tape system provider Spectra Logic is taking away that uncertainty.
The Boulder, Colo.-based company on March 21 said it is offering a new feature called Data Integrity Verification across its complete line of T-Series tape libraries-from small and midsize business systems to petabyte-scale enterprise systems.
One other note: The company is not charging a dime for it.
Spectra Logic's BlueScale Data Integrity Verification for tape libraries is an industry first, CTO Molly Rector told eWEEK, and an important long-term data-reliability feature that ensures data written to tape is retrievable now and for years to come.
DIV comes with BlueScale 11.3, the latest version of the software-management platform that runs all of Spectra Logic's tape libraries. As a result, it is the only tape storage system that automatically checks the media and the data on tape throughout the storage life of the data, Rector said.
Spectra Logic makes various sizes of digital tape systems that range from small-business archiving all the way up to the processing of large data sets for television stations, video creation studios (including computer-generated animation) and scientific applications.
"Integrated data integrity verification is increasingly becoming a data center requirement for highly valued data solutions," Rector said. "Data Integrity Verification reduces risk, ensures enduring access to archived data and is fast becoming a data center requirement."
Data Integrity Verification includes three levels of automated validation, Rector said:
- PreScan: Checks newly imported tapes to ensure they are ready to use; for example, it classifies them as in good health, generationally compatible, or not write-protected.
- QuickScan: Quickly and immediately verifies the backup and archive data was successfully written to tape with a rapid single pass from the beginning of the tape to the end of the first track. Along with PostScan, rapid or gradual media degradation is tracked in the library's flash memory SQL database and reported to users.
- PostScan: Automatically verifies the physical tape cartridge and the integrity of all of the data stored upon it. As with PreScan and QuickScan, the PostScan process is performed by the library and is independent of the backup application normally used to read and write data to the tape.
Flow of Data Not Slowing Down
The amount of data stored on tape continues to surge as massive and growing digital-archive demands compel users to seek practical and economical ways to address escalating data volumes, senior analyst Mark Peters of Enterprise Strategy Group said.
"We expect worldwide tape archive capacity to grow more than sixfold over the next five years-from just under 13 exabytes in 2010 to over 81 exabytes by 2015, driven by both new digital content and extended storage timelines," Peters said.
"Consequently, organizations need smart strategies and tools that deliver extreme storage efficiencies while meeting stringent data reliability and availability requirements. Spectra Logic's enterprise capabilities and tape technology innovations, including Data Integrity Verification, are excellent examples of this."
Tape Remains a Mainstay in Data Centers
Digital tape, though often described as obsolete by disk and solid-state storage makers, has been a mainstay of IT storage for two generations and shows little indication of leaving the enterprise scene anytime soon.
Spectra Logic's Rector said, "We have customers who are using our digital tape systems for their Tier 1 storage."
While that may sound outrageous off the top, one has to consider the use cases connected with the big systems Spectra Logic makes. While digital tape certainly would not be a Tier 1-type storage to use for high-transaction/database-type applications, for a television station or video-creation studio, it would be front and center.
Data Integrity Verification is available immediately for no charge on all Spectra Logic tape libraries, including the Spectra T50e and T120, the Spectra T-Series Mid-Range T200, T380 and T680, and the enterprise class T950 and T-Finity, Rector said.