IBM Addresses Data Retention Requirements with DR550
August 16, 2005 Alex Woodie
IBM recently shipped a new version of its TotalStorage Data Retention 550, a Power5-based storage area network (SAN) device that can provide up to 56GB of storage for an array of OS/400, Unix, Windows, mainframe, and Linux servers. The new DR550 comes equipped with new replication and data encryption features, including support for write once, read many (WORM) disk, and AES and DES encryption. IBM also introduced a low-cost entry-level edition of the box, called the DR550 Express.
The DR550 and its predecessor, the DR450, which was launched in 2004, are designed to help facilitate compliance with data-retention requirements by helping customers manage and simplify the retrieval of archival and backup data they must retain in accordance with strict record-retention policies and regulations. The device is based on a pSeries Model 520 server, and includes the AIX 5.2 operating system, Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) for Data Retention software, and TotalStorage DS4000 and DS4100 serial ATA (SATA)-based disk subsystems.
In late July, IBM introduced a version of the DR550 designed for small and medium size business, called the TotalStorage DR550 Express. The DR550 Express is the same as the full-size DR550, with several exceptions. First, the DR550 Express’ total storage capacity is limited to about 1.2 TB, whereas the full DR550 can hold up to 56 TB (with a full complement of 16 IBM TotalStorage DS4000 expansion units across a dual-node setup). Similarly, because the Express version doesn’t support the dual-node system, it won’t support the “Metro Mirroring” feature in the full-size version that enables real-time synchronized copies of the data to be maintained on DR550s in separate locations. The DR550 Express only supports Ethernet connections, while the full DR550 supports Fibre Channel as well.
Price is the biggest difference between the DR550, which was introduced in April, and the DR550 Express. A DR550 Express comes in at around $40,000 to $45,000 for 1.1 TB of usable near-line storage, whereas the full-size DR550 starts at around $100,000 for 3 TB of storage.
Key Information Systems, a Southern California reseller of IBM’s servers and storage equipment, has a DR550 installed in its lab, and is encouraging potential customers to come in and try it out. The company has found the device to be especially useful for archiving certain types of data, including e-mail, instant messages, and voice mails; for archiving inactive ERP and database applications; for replacing an optical disk solution; for archiving images and drawings; and as part of a solution for complying with Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, SEC, and FTC regulations.
The DR550 devices are ideally installed as the nearline storage component of a hierarchical storage management strategy, says Key’s resident storage guru, Gary Thomsen. The SATA disks in the DR550 family are slower than the SCSI or Fibre Channel disks used in IBM’s line of Shark SANs for production. But the DR550 provides an economical way to house data that’s not going to be commonly accessed for a period of two to five years. If it needs to be archived for at least five to seven years, tape is still the most economical method, he says.
In addition to the disk-based WORM capability, support for 128-bit AES or 56-bit DES encryption with the current DR550 and DR550 Express devices is a big differentiator compared to production disk.
IBM has developed an API for the DR550 that enables third-party applications to tap into the DR550’s data-retention capabilities. This API works with a variety of host servers and applications, including OS/400 through IBM’s Backup Recovery and Media Services (BRMS) through several PTFs that let BRMS store objects to TSM. IBM is also working on new Tivoli software that will allow the DR550 to directly access DB2 databases, including DB2/400, to back up the data directly, Thomsen says.
Third-party providers of content and document management systems are currently in the process of certifying their products against this API. The applications that have been certified include: IBM’s native TSM clients for AIX, Linux, Sun‘s Solaris, HP‘s HP/UX, and NetWare; Comprendium‘s Multilingual Content Integration Framework for OS/400, OS/390, Unix, Windows, and Linux; Easy Software‘s J2EE content management systems for Windows, Unix, and Linux; Hyland Software‘s OnBase content management system for AIX and Windows; a variety of versions of IBM’s DB2 Content Manager products (supporting every IBM platform except for OS/400); PeopleSoft Enterprise, EnterpriseOne, and Oracle‘s own ERP software (via a Princeton Softech adapter); and others. To access the full list of applications and platforms supported by this API, click here.
Key has recently held two Webinars about the DR550, which can be accessed on its Web site at www.keyisit.com. The company plans to hold another Webinar on October 13.