Crossroads to Debut Online All-the-Time Data Archive

Posted on December 01, 2011 By Thor Olavsrud

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On Monday, Crossroads Systems will begin selling a new tier-3 data storage solution that aims to make tape as easy to access as disk and keeps archives accessible.

Crossroads (NASDAQ:CRDS) calls it StrongBox and described it as an online all-the-time, non-proprietary and fully portable data vault for long-term data retention. StrongBox leverages the Linear Tape File System (LTFS), a self-describing tape format IBM developed last year that defines the organization of data and metadata on tape. LTFS addresses a long-standing issue with tape by enabling a file system view of the data stored on the tape. It also incorporates disk for fast file storage and retrieval, while using tape for long-term storage.

Essentially, you can view and access data via StrongBox as you would data on a USB drive. StrongBox is intended to sit as a NAS target, and it has the ability to mount CIFS/NFS shares.

"StrongBox shatters the perception that an archive infrastructure will forever remain proprietary, inflexible, high maintenance and expensive," said Rob Sims, president and chief executive officer of Crossroads Systems. "It unlocks the possibilities of how to manage long-term data, and [it] does so while dramatically reucing archive costs and arming organizations with the power to make their own data decisions. Proprietary archive systems and vendor lock-ins can be a thing of the past. With StrongBox, your data can now be alive in the archive."

StrongBox sits on top of LTO-5 tape drives and libraries, and Sims said it will support LTO-6 when it becomes available. There are no agents, applications or proprietary software, so Sims said it is easy to take those tapes and read them in any LTFS compatible drive or system. Additionally, it can ingest data from other vendors' systems as well. Sims pointed out that this makes it trivial to move and manage terabytes of information without tying up expensive network bandwidth.

Sims said StrongBox presents a persistent view of all the data stored on the cartridges to which it has access. Multiple access points can engage it simultaneously and still be presented with a unified, persistent view.

The system uses disk for caching and buffering, with tape for the actual storage. StrongBox said it can achieve up to a 90 percent cost reduction for file-based storage in this way, and flexible policies and configurations provide optimized access to data and minimize the total cost of ownership for an online all-the-time data archive.

Additionally, StrongBox boasts self-healing capabilities. It proactively monitors and reports on the health of data and drives. When it detects media or drive degradation, it copies files, healing the archive and preserving data policies. It also auto-migrates files to newer drive technology and media without sacrificing the files' online accessibility.

"The Crossroads StrongBox presents a paradigm shift in the use of tape that is cost effect and energy efficient, lowering the TCO of the storage infrastructure for the enterprise," said David Reine, senior contributing analyst at The Clipper Group, in an Oct. 6th report. "It separates tape from its legacy relationship with backup applications. By using LTO-5 and LFTS, StrongBox has the capacity, scalability and flexibility required for use as an active archive."

Thor Olavsrud is a contributor to InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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