By Heidi Biggar
Within the next two months, Copan Systems is expected to begin production shipments of its Serial ATA-based Revolution 200T RAID array, which was originally announced in April. One feature that differentiates the array from existing disk-based backup products is that it only spins disks when reading or writing data. The system is designed for "write-once, read-occasionally data" and applications such as backup/restore and scientific research. Copan is primarily targeting Fortune 500 companies.
By being able to start and stop disks as needed, Copan combines the economies of a quiesced media (i.e., tape) with the speed advantages of hard disks, according to Anne MacFarland, director of enterprise architectures and infrastructure solutions at The Clipper Group consulting firm.
Because the system doesn't spin disks continuously, it is able to pack drives in a dense footprint (14 drives in a 3.5TB canister) without cooling, heating, or vibration problems. "Disk aerobics" monitor and manage drive usage, extending drive life up to four times, or the equivalent of SCSI drives, according to company officials. Copan refers to the ability to start and stop drives based on usage as "Power-Managed RAID."
The 200T scales from 56TB to 224TB (up to 896 SATA drives), which makes it as much as three times denser than some tape libraries, according to company officials.
Copan also claims 2.4TB per hour throughput, a data access rate that is up to 10x faster than tape, and an overall cost that is less than tape. The company quotes pricing of $3.50 per gigabyte of uncompressed data in some configurations.
"The Revolution 200T provides enterprise-class disk at the price and scale of tape," according to Dave Davenport, Copan's president and CEO.
Like disk-based products from vendors such as ADIC, Quantum, and Sepaton, the 200T is implemented in a virtual tape configuration and supports leading backup applications and back-end tape devices.
However, unlike some competing products, the 200T is designed to serve as a replacement for tape, not as a staging device in a disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T) environment.
"Our focus is being the final repository, not the intermediate stage," says Davenport. The 200T is designed to serve as the second "D" in a disk-to-disk (D2D) configuration or the third "D" in a disk-to-disk-to-disk (D2D2D) implementation. However, the array can also be used in more- traditional D2D2T environments or even as primary disk storage.