Crossroads to Debut StrongBox, an LTFS-Based Archive
November 15, 2011 Alex Woodie
Crossroads Systems next month will begin selling StrongBox, a new storage solution that combines the large capacities and long-term storage capabilities of tape with the quick accessibility of disk. The solution, which is built on the linear tape file system (LTFS) technology that debuted with LTO 5, doesn’t support native IBM i data, but could still make it into the data centers of IBM i shops.
LTFS was one of the pleasant surprises that debuted over a year ago when the LTO Consortium released the specs for the fifth generation of the Linear Tape-Open format. LTFS is a self-describing tape format that enables data to be read independently of the program used to write the data to the tape. Just as USB flash memory sticks make sharing data among PCs a snap, LTFS enables any Windows, Linux, or Mac computer to read data on an LTO 5 cartridge–as long as an LTO 5 drive is available, of course.
Crossroads is using LTFS with Strongbox, which is expected to ship in December. StrongBox uses LTFS to provide disk-like data access capabilities (if not speeds) across a backend LTO tape library. The StrongBox software provides the enterprise controls to manage a data archive stored in an LTO 5 tape library or even a disk array. The solution knows which data is stored where, and provides data policy management and hardware management and monitoring capabilities in one combined solution.
“A tape now walks, talks, breathes, looks like a disk, because you can take a USB drive and stick it into your laptop, and you would be able to see all of the contents that are on the drive,” Debasmita Roychowdhury, senior product manager, tells IT Jungle. “We have combined the benefits from the tape world, including power, reliability, cost, and scalability, along with the disk benefits in terms of the simultaneous and quick file access, to put together this archive solution that incorporates both disk and tape . . . to provide a cost effective, reliable, and non-proprietary data vault.”
StrongBox features disk drives for fast data ingress, software for managing data archives, and backend interfaces to LTO 5 tape libraries. Administrators will be able to manage their data archives using the policy management tools provided through StrongBox’s graphical user interface. Users will be able to monitor the growth of archives, manage tapes, activate file retention timers, and utilize other management capabilities.
Two versions of the StrongBox appliance will be available. StrongBox T1 is a 1U device that features 5.5 TB of RAID5 protected disk and the capacity to store 200 million files. It can input data from servers at the rate of 160 MB per second over dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, and write data to LTO tape libraries or external disk arrays via dual 6 Gbps SAS ports. The T3 is a 3U device that features 14 TB of RAID6 protected disk and capacity for 5 billion files. It can input data at speeds up to 600 MBps over quad Gigabit Ethernet ports, and write data to back-end tape libraries or disk arrays via quad 6 Gbps SAS ports or quad 8 Gbps Fibre Channel ports. Both versions support Windows, Linux, and Mac systems via CIFS or NFS network data protocols.
StrongBox is designed to store so-called tier-three data, which is “write once, read rarely” data that needs to be stored for long periods of time for compliance purposes. Big users of tier-three data can be found in the media and entertainment, healthcare, retail, and financial services industries.
For more information, visit www.crossroads.com.