On the Road to Disk-Based Archiving

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Now that disk-to-disk backup is taking a firmer hold in the enterprise, many organizations are taking the next step toward disk-based archiving.


What's the difference? While simple backup merely copies the content of storage devices, with maybe some de-duplication thrown in to preserve space, disk archiving uses a set of intelligent target devices and sophisticated software to move data off the backup process and onto long-term disk drives. The newest systems are said to provide reliable storage for up to 30 years.


Disk archiving offers a number of advantages over tape, according to this article from archive specialist Storage Switzerland. Not only is tape slower, but it suffers from degradation problems over time and is not very friendly to technology upgrades.


Disk-based archive solutions are hitting the market in various forms, from simple appliances to fully integrated platforms.


On the appliance level, one of the newest disk-based entrants is ProStor's InfiniVault, a removable disk system designed for small- and medium-sized enterprises. The device uses a rugged 2.5-inch drive coupled with an Archive Compliance Engine that provides write-once data immutability, as well as management and file-retention capabilities that allow managers to establish archival processes tied to business intelligence policies.


Hewlett Packard is also jumping back into the market, revamping its former bug-plagued Reference Information Storage System (RISS) into the new HP Integrated Archive Platform. The system uses grid technology to distribute and store terabytes of data onto disk-based SmartCells. And while the old RISS system was primarily an e-mail solution, the new IAP accommodates file data, print scans and even data from third-party management systems like Vignette and Open Text.


Also moving in on the high end is NEC, which has expanded its HYDRAstor grid storage architecture to include backup and archive. The HYDRAstor HS-Series utilizes a unified disk storage platform to overcome the silo approach that usually evolves around archive operations. A series of Accelerator Nodes allow managers to scale de-duplication capabilities from 200 MBps to 1.4 GBps, while storage nodes can boost capacity from 150 TB to 10 PB.


With disk-based archiving, efficient use of available storage space is still a primary concern, even if there are terabytes of free space available. So it pays to investigate how each solution handles de-duplication, replication, data compression and all the other tricks that come into in play. And even if disk is still more expensive that tape, the cost is not unreasonable for the speed and reliability it provides.