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Sun automates tiered data archiving

Sun rolls out new tape library and key management system, along with multitiered archive system that uses SAM-FS to automatically migrate data.

Sun Microsystems Inc. is beefing up its tape archiving capabilities with a new midrange library, a double-spool tape drive for easier data access and a key management system for tape encryption. Sun is also repackaging its Storage Archive Manager File System (SAM-FS) into an automated, multitiered data archive system.

Despite the focus on tape with these announcements, Sun's long-term archiving strategy still has room for disk, according to Alex North, group manager for tape and archive solutions. "We will be looking across our portfolio at ways to create open standards-based archiving packages," he said. An emphasis on open standards will accompany the initiative, and yesterday Sun said that it is donating the code to its Honeycomb CAS archive to the open source community.

"This helps ensure the longevity of a technology when developers can take partial ownership of that technology so that if Sun goes away, the technology moves forward," North said.

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Midrange version of tape silo

The SL3000 tape library -- a midrange version of the much larger SL8500 tape silo -- brings many of the features of larger libraries down-market. These features include the ability to slot any type of tape cartridge into any of the drives within the library, as well as the "Centerline" architecture, which puts the tape drives in the center of the library to speed robot access times. The library scales up to 3,000 slots and its capacity can be upgraded without downtime. Pricing starts at $68,000.

The Sun StorageTek T9840D tape drive uses a double-spooled cartridge and inserts the read head between the spools. This process is designed to make random data access faster than with single-spooled linear tape drives. Sun said the drive can even hold nearline storage for applications that can tolerate sub-20 second response delays. The 9840D will be priced at $38,000 per drive.

Key management

With its Crypto Key Management System (KMS) 2.0, Sun has changed how keys are generated for its encrypting tape drives, as well as the Hewlett-Packard LTO drives it also supports. The keys previously had been "pushed" out to physical drives with key tokens, and the tokens had to be sent with tape cartridges. With version 2.0, the token has been eliminated, and the KMS will centrally create and distribute keys at up to 10 sites and 3,000 drives over the network. KMS 2.0 also adds support for high-availability clusters for the key management server, and Sun will open the code to KMS. KMS 2.0 will be available for $8,000.

Rack appliance holds servers running SAM-FS

One of Sun's new offerings combines disk and tape. The Sun CIS Infinite Store Archive System is a rack appliance containing servers running SAM-FS, disk storage and tape libraries. Fibre Channel or SATA disk systems are available, ranging from 18 TB to 200 TB. SAM-FS will automate the migration of data between top disk tiers and tape according to policies set by users. If data sent to tape according to policy is recalled, SAM-FS will automatically reset the policy so that it gets moved to tape again. Pricing starts at $130,000.

One analyst said this is not only a unique approach to archiving, but it could also be the permanent home within Sun's product portfolio for SAM-FS now that ZFS is becoming its most prominent file system. "They have a problem of riches in that department -- some would say they have too many file systems under one roof," said John Webster, Illuminata Inc. analyst. "I believe they're moving toward having their main file system be ZFS and having this be where SAM-FS lives for the foreseeable future."

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