PowerFile revamps archiving appliance

Posted on May 05, 2009

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By Dave Simpson

-- PowerFile is one of a handful of vendors relying on optical disc technology in enterprise-class storage systems. The company's archiving platform was formerly called the Active Archive Appliance, but today PowerFile introduced a new platform – dubbed the Hybrid Storage Appliance (HSA) – with more capacity, enhanced software and other features.

In PowerFile's case, 'hybrid' refers to a combination of SAS disk drives acting as a front-end cache coupled to Blu-Ray disc drives and media.

The company positions the archiving platform, which is designed to store fixed content data, between pure disk-based arrays and tape libraries, but makes most of its cost comparisons against Tier-2 disk systems.

"Only 12% of the total cost of disk-based storage goes towards the initial purchase price, while 88% goes toward ongoing operations expenses [including backup and replication, management and maintenance, and tech refreshes and data migrations]," says Kirk Dunn, PowerFile's CEO. The company claims overall cost savings of up to 10x compared to SATA-based Tier-2 disk systems, and an energy savings of more than 90%. (The system consumes less than five watts per TB.)

The archiving platforms are built on a "distributed performance" architecture and a revamped file system, designed specifically for fixed content, that virtualizes disk and optical content into dynamic volumes.

From a hardware perspective, the HSA includes three units:

• A controller with up to 16 quad-core processors that powers the Hybrid OS software
• A Cache Array with up to 12TB on 7,200rpm SAS drives, with sustained ingest rates of up to 375MBps, or 32.4TB per day
• A Blu-Ray-based disc library with up to 25TB (50TB compressed) of capacity and 12 optical disc drives

Internally, the system has a grid-based architecture with Gigabit Ethernet and 10GbE links.

Software features include file-level WORM, thin provisioning, retention management, volume replication and automated mirroring. Options include WAN-based replication, Adaptive Data Reduction (compression with up 7:1 reduction ratios, according to the company), and an Archive Facilitator, which provides policy-based discovery, classification and migration for automated recovery of data.

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