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Spectra Logic Corp. upgrades BlackPearl with more cache, object support

Spectra Logic has tweaked S3 commands on BlackPearl archiving gateway to enable bulk transfer of objects to backend LTFS libraries.

Tape archive vendor Spectra Logic Corp. has added 10 TB IBM tape technology and an object interface in the latest version of its BlackPearl Deep Storage Gateway appliance.

Spectra Logic also said BlackPearl hardware will be available as an optional add-on to NetApp Inc.'s Storage GRID Webscale object storage platform.

BlackPearl supports object storage through a RESTful interface and connects to tape, supporting linear tape file system (LTFS). BlackPearl 1.1 integrates IBM TS1150 tape cartridges and a RESTful-based interface with 10-Gigabit Ethernet connectivity. The device uses SAS or Fibre Channel connections to write objects directly to Spectra tape libraries for archival storage.

Spectra Logic Corp. said inline compression in the revamped BlackPearl hardware potentially boosts native capacity of IBM TS1150 tape cartridges from 10 TB to 25 TB, assuming a 2.5-to-1 reduction ratio. Spectra Logic first added IBM TS1150 tape drives in November to its T380, T950 and T-Finity hardware.

S3 command set added for bulk transfer, high-density caching drives

BlackPearl caches incoming writes on disk and moves data to tape storage as page sizes approach 100 gigabytes. The upgrade doubles tape cache capacity from 28 TB to 56 TB and boosts cache performance to 1 Gbps.

The latest version supports up to six solid-state drives (SSDs) ranging in capacity from 400 GB to 1.6 TB and up to 20 8 TB enterprise SAS drives. The device is rated to handle 1.3 billion objects with a full complement of SSDs. Enhanced backup features include automatic copying of object metadata to tape.

Spectra Logic's object-based command set, DS3, is an extension of Amazon Web Services' Simple Storage Service (S3) cloud storage interface. The latest version adds bulk put and bulk get commands to S3, along with commands for retrieving portions of an object.

BlackPearl storage geared for historical analysis, compliance

Due to its dependence on S3, BlackPearl likely will compete with, and complement, Amazon cloud storage, particularly its Glacier service for cold storage. BlackPearl is rated to pull up to six streams of large files simultaneously at 1 Gbps, but it may not always be as economical as Glacier's 1-cent-per-GB monthly cost.

"It all depends on the file size (being streamed). For real small files, Amazon Glacier is going to be faster than we are. But for really big object files, we're going to be much, much faster and much, much cheaper," Spectra Logic Corp. CTO Matt Starr said.

Starr said his company aims BlackPearl primarily at three vertical markets: government, media and entertainment, and oil and gas. List price for BlackPearl hardware is about $50,000, regardless of how much capacity is used behind it.

"BlackPearl is just a gateway to our tape libraries. The (purchase) price is the same whether you store 1 PB or 10 PB in our library," Starr said.

According to Randy Kerns, an analyst with the Evaluator group, BlackPearl is particularly helpful to those who use tape. "Tape got a new lease on life with LTFS technologies, and BlackPearl gives Spectra a way to easily move data that's been written to talk to cloud storage over an S3 protocol," said Kerns. "There are a significant number of companies where tape is endemic to how they operate. BlackPearl gives them a way to build a two-tiered archive system."

Next Steps

Where to focus with object storage for the cloud

HGST gets in on the active archive market

Dig Deeper on Tape backup and tape libraries

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