Copan adds data-archiving array

By Ann Silverthorn

—Copan Systems has expanded its portfolio of enterprise storage solutions leveraging its massive array of idle disks (MAID) platform into the archiving market. The Revolution 220A is based on Copan's Revolution 220T virtual tape library (VTL) with the addition of Millennia Archive software.

"In the last six months, customers have started to realize that backup and archiving are processes performed for different business needs," says Roger Archibald, vice president of marketing and business development at Copan. "Backup is a time-based event focused on recovery in case of disaster. An archive is a repository of all digital assets managed so information can be accessed quickly."

Copan's Revolution 220A separates less-active data from active data that should undergo the backup process. It moves less-active files from application servers to a platform designed for the retention of long-term data. Administrators can attach metadata to the files regarding the length of time it should be retained and if it should be given write-once, read-many (WORM) status. The metadata can also attach names, directories, or attributes that would be included in a search. Data can be searched by the file name or the file's attributes, not the content.

When companies back up to tape and then need to recover data, administrators must restore the data from tape to primary disk before the data can be used. With Copan's archiving solution, individual users can access archived files on their own in less time. This, of course, depends upon the permissions that have been given to each user. An audit trail is created to keep track of who has accessed the files. Copan also provides interfaces so applications can access the files.

When a user retrieves a file and makes changes, the original file is not written over. A second version of the file is created in addition to a record of changes made.

Archibald cites an example of a customer who will be using the Revolution 220A in motion picture animation. The customer stated that the amount of data created by one animated movie was 35TB. In the past, after a movie was finished and DVDs burned, the data was put on tape. Now when the customer works on a sequel to the movie and wants to use a file from the first movie, the file can be retrieved without having to go through a restoration process from tape media.

The advantage of Copan's MAID architecture, according to Archibald, is that its Power Managed RAID software spins the drives only when data is requested, and only 25% of the disks spin at any one time, increasing the lifespan of the disks by four times. In addition, Copan's Disk Aerobics software provides ongoing data verification, periodically "exercising" idle disks and detecting possible drive failures before they occur.

Instead of becoming part of a SAN, the Revolution 220A sits on the LAN with up to four Gigabit Ethernet connections. Archibald says pricing is comparable to Copan's VTL product and to tape—about $3.50 per gigabyte.

This article was originally published on November 10, 2005