Re­duc­ing Data Stor­age Costs Through Ac­tive Ar­chiv­ing

An ‘ac­tive ar­chive’ of data en­sures that it is al­ways avail­able in an en­vi­ron­ment that is im­me­di­ately and eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble to users, is not draw­ing power or tak­ing up un­nec­es­sary space, and yet re­mains pro­tected for a long time


T— Floyd Christof­fer­son, Di­rec­tor of Stor­age Prod­uct Mar­ket­ing, SGI he main­stream adoption of HD, 3D, mo­bile and stream­ing ser­vices presents an ar­chiv­ing chal­lenge for the dig­i­tal me­dia in­dus­try, in scal­ing stor­age and sup­port sys­tems cost ef­fec­tively, and there­fore pro­vid­ing suf­fi­cient ca­pac­ity and speed of in­for­ma­tion re­trieval re­quired.

Even though more and more dig­i­tal me­dia files are fill­ing up ever-larger disk si­los, pro­pelled by the pro­lif­er­a­tion of medi­ums, the amount of data is grow­ing quicker than the need to ac­cess it. For the dig­i­tal me­dia sec­tor, spe­cific files are rarely ac­cessed, but the key is for that ac­cess to be im­me­di­ate and fast; busi­ness users and con­sumers want them avail­able at all times.

For some busi­nesses this chal­lenge would be ad­dressed through bet­ter data man­age­ment, but trans­lated to the dig­i­tal me­dia and pro­duc­tion sec­tor the chal­lenge be­comes as­tound­ing. The prob­lem is more crit­i­cal than the realm of per­sonal pref­er­ence where on­line me­dia is ac­ces­si­ble in­stantly, such as ser­vices like BBC iPlayer or Spo­tify, in­stead the is­sue is a busi­ness ne­ces­sity. The busi­ness needs to have ac­cess to the full range of data at all times. Al­ways-on and ac­ces­si­ble data An ac­tive ar­chive means data is al­ways avail­able in an ‘on­line’ state. In the con­text of an ac­tive ar­chive, ‘on­line’ means that the data is avail­able in an en­vi­ron­ment that is im­me­di­ately and eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble to users, that is not draw­ing power or tak­ing up un­nec­es­sary space, and one in which the data is pro­tected for a long time.

An ac­tive ar­chive strat­egy, when prop­erly ap­plied, sig­nif­i­cantly re­duces over­all stor­age and data man­age­ment costs whilst im­prov­ing ef­fi­cien­cies and the abil­ity for users to ac­cess all data.

In essence, the data should live where it is most ef­fi­cient. For ex­am­ple, in­ac­tive data, WHICH IS BLA, which has re­ten­tion value can be moved into an ar­chive tier stor­age that, al­though ‘on­line’ and vis­i­ble to the user, is typ­i­cally in a pow­ered-down state us­ing Mas­sive Ar­ray of Idle Disks (MAID) tech­nol­ogy that com­pletely re­moves power from the ar­ray. These archives, while still avail­able to users, can be man­aged with very dif­fer­ent dis­as­ter re­cov­ery tech­niques that re­quire less in­vest­ment, and at a frac­tion of the op­er­a­tional costs of con­ven­tional diskbased file stores.

This is a vast con­trast to a tra­di­tional ar­chiv­ing ap­proach, where data of­ten ends up re­sid­ing in an off­site data tape store that re­quired hours if not days for data re­trieval.

Im­ple­ment­ing an ac­tive ar­chive There are nu­mer­ous tools that can sim­plify the im­ple­men­ta­tion of an ac­tive ar­chive strat­egy. These can be cat­e­gorised as:

• Mig­i­tal AVVet Man­age­mentJ Lead­ing dig­i­tal as­set man­age­ment sys­tems au­to­mat­i­cally in­dex con­tent in mul­ti­ple ways as it is cre­ated and mod­i­fied. Us­ing this meta data users can search for data, and ad­min­is­tra­tors can eas­ily set poli­cies to au­to­mat­i­cally de­ter­mine which data should re­main on pro­duc­tion disk drives and which can mi­grate to lower cost, higher ef­fi­ciency sec­ond or third tier stor­age.

• Hier­ar­cUi­cal Stor­age Man­age­ment (Tier Vir­tu­al­iVa­tion)J An­other cost-ef­fec­tive tech­nique that can aid in de­vel­op­ing an ac­tive ar­chive is to vir­tu­alise tiers of stor­age through the use of a hier­ar­chi­cal stor­age man­age­ment so­lu­tion. These en­able mul­ti­ple tiers of disk and tape to ap­pear to users as one large ag­gre­gated vol­ume even though the data is ac­tu­ally dis­trib­uted across mul­ti­ple stor­age types. The beauty of this sys­tem is that all the data ap­pears to the user to be on­line in the high speed, ex­pen­sive, pro­duc­tion disk at all times. But in re­al­ity, even though the file ap­pears to be right where the user put it in the file sys­tem, it has ac­tu­ally mi­grated to lower cost stor­age. This ap­proach de­liv­ers dra­matic over­all cost sav­ings with­out the need for users to learn and fol­low where their con­tent is lo­cated.

• Low power maVV Vtor­age uVing MAIMJ A MAID sys­tem is an­other sig­nif­i­cant tool in cre­at­ing a lower cost ac­tive ar­chive. By se­lec­tively pow­er­ing down whole sec­tions of the disk ar­ray un­til the data is needed MAID sig­nif­i­cantly re­duces the power and cool­ing re­quire­ments of the data cen­tre, much like tape li­braries do, but with the added ad­van­tage of much higher per­for­mance and proac­tive data pro­tec­tion.

In con­clu­sion An ac­tive ar­chive strat­egy re­quires ef­fec­tive plan­ning and de­ploy­ment of man­age­ment tools. When im­ple­mented ef­fec­tively it can con­sid­er­ably re­duce the over­all cost of manag­ing a grow­ing pool of dig­i­tal data. In­di­vid­ual com­po­nents can be up­graded or changed with­out im­pact­ing the user ex­pe­ri­ence. In this sce­nario, scal­a­bil­ity be­comes an as­set, and not a headache.

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