Tape the choice for active archive

The University of Bristol has selected Spectra Logic’s T680 library to offload less frequently accessed data from the primary disk storage to an active tape archive.

The University of Bristol has over 5,300 employees and around 20,000 students. The University has more than 100 buildings hosting its faculties (which include arts, engineering, medical and veterinary science, medicine and dentistry as well as social sciences and law) and student facilities such as the union, libraries and accommodation. The University’s central IT infrastructure team is managed by Graeme Cappi, who has overall responsibility for all IT systems related to office and registration data, corporate databases and email as well as course materials and associated documents and images. With a heavily virtualised environment, providing over 450 servers to back-up in central services, it was decided that the University needed to create an archive and migrate less time-critical data to a tape library in order to free up costly primary storage.

Harvey Ditchfield, senior system administrator, consulted value-added reseller Cristie Data for advice on cost effective storage options for their large unstructured data set. After considering its options, the University decided to opt for a proof of concept trial-run for a few months with a Spectra Logic T200 tape library. Using StorHouse software from FileTek to move the data from primary disk storage to the active tape archive means that the data held on the library is always readily available.

Harvey explained, “Cost of storage was an important consideration so a tape library was a no-brainer. We looked at the Quantum i6000 but were particularly impressed by the density and security aspects of the Spectra Logic libraries. We also liked the way that Spectra Logic is interested in a relationship for the long-term and they were really helpful in ensuring that we had everything we needed from day one of the trial-run.”

After a successful trial, a decision was made to purchase the Spectra Logic T680, which has greater capacity than the trial T200 model with 42 rack units giving up two petabytes of compressed storage with the LTO-5 tape drive and media technology deployed in the library. The T-680 also includes the advanced security technology that initially attracted the University to choose Spectra Logic, namely integrated BlueScale Encryption to provide added AES-256 bit security for stored data and Media Lifecycle Management which records over 40 data points every time a tape is loaded, giving vital statistical and diagnostic information so that integrity of the data on the tapes can be ensured and easily managed. By deploying Spectra Logic’s Certified Media and BlueScale interface together, Graeme Cappi’s team can manage, track, and report all facets of tape usage from creation to retirement.

Bristol University’s Spectra T680 currently uses LTO-5 tapes which have a capacity of 1.5 TB native and 3.0 TB compressed each with throughput speed up to 140 MB/sec and 280 MB/sec respectively; they also help consolidate the university’s primary data storage, while managing less media. Post installation, the University of Bristol is migrating data into its Active Archive to help offload the primary storage and to more efficiently manage backups. “We currently backup over 120TB’s a week, so the ability to move infrequently accessed data off primary storage and into an archive is an essential part of our future strategy.”

“Not only will the University’s T680 help offload their primary storage today with up to one petabyte PB of uncompressed capacity in a single rack, but the library will continue to help them by scaling to multiple petabytes in the same footprint as they adopt future LTO generations.” said Brian Grainger, Spectra Logic’s senior vice president of worldwide sales.

Harvey added, “We’re very happy with our Spectra Logic T680; it needs very little time spent on it and delivers in all the ways we want it to. We’re seriously considering buying another one!”

ATTO Technology has published the findings of an independent survey of IT decision-makers from across the UK and Germany conducted by Vanson Bourne.
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