Unified Object Storage with Disk and Tape

As the range of applications for object storage systems continues to expand, two issues come to the fore:

  1. With increasing data volumes in the petabyte range, hard disk-based object storage systems are quickly proving uneconomical. This is especially true for long-term storage and legally compliant archiving of data.
    What are the options for cost-effective storage of constantly increasing data volumes?
  2. Object storage systems are considered fail-safe, but data loss can still occur: be it due to technical or human error, or malware.
    How can data be protected against these risks? How can a well thought-out backup and archiving strategy be implemented for such data volumes, while at the same time ensuring fast access to the data?

Advantages and disadvantages of different storage classes

One solution approach is to combine different storage classes within the storage infrastructure. The storage classes differ in their characteristics – and thus also in their best area of application:

Disk-based storage systems are characterized by high write and access rates.

  • The costs per storage unit are comparatively high – as is the energy consumption for operation and cooling. Hard disks are therefore suitable for storing data that is accessed frequently.
  • For large volumes of inactive data that need to be stored over the long term, constant expansion of hard disk capacities proves uneconomical – both in terms of acquisition and operating costs.
  • In addition, the lifespan of hard disks is relatively short compared to the retention periods, so the data would have to be migrated to new storage systems frequently – on average every 5-7 years.

The storage medium tape finds its ideal use in the long-term storage of inactive data.

  • A clear disadvantage of tape are the often very high access times when reading the data.
  • However, if the data does not have to be read immediately and regularly, tape proves to be a durable as well as cost- and energy-efficient storage medium for large data volumes. The price per TB for tape is far below that of hard disks.
  • The individual media have a service life of up to 30 years – with inexpensive storing and no further energy consumption.
  • As offline media, tapes also offer reliable protection against cyber attacks thanks to the so-called “air gap” and can play an important role in a 3-2-1 backup strategy.

Intelligent tiering for object storage

The concept of tiering is based on storing data in the optimal location within a multi-tier storage architecture. This allows users to benefit from the specific properties and advantages of the different storage media.

As a rule, specialized software ensures that the data is automatically moved to the appropriate storage tier. Tiering is carried out on the basis of predefined rules that are based, for example, on the age or frequency of data use.

Due to the large volumes of data that accumulate in the object storage area, considerable optimization can be achieved by integrating a tape storage tier. Tape is then available as an ideal storage medium for data that is rarely or never used.

PoINT Archival Gateway – Unified Object Storage

Existing hard disk-based object storage systems can be extended by a tape storage class with PoINT Archival Gateway. This allows the migration of cold data to tape. Migration of data is done either by integrated functions like “Cross Region Replication” or by automated migrations, e.g. with PoINT Data Replicator.

If unified object storage is required, PoINT Archival Gateway – Unified Object Storage offers the solution. PoINT Archival Gateway – Unified Object Storage is a software-defined S3 object storage combining a disk and a tape storage class under a single namespace. This enables optimized storage of large and ever-growing amounts of data – as an alternative to perpetual expansion of storage capacity with new disks and as an alternative to regular migrations.

Data is automatically moved between storage classes using AWS S3 lifecycle policies. This allows the solution to serve as a unified S3 archive storage to reliably and legally archive inactive data within an object storage system on tape.

Backup applications expect short response times. Therefore, these applications benefit from a disk storage class. With the help of the integrated replication function, the data can also be stored directly on the tape storage class.

Likewise, the solution lends itself as a target storage for AI and ML applications, which initially stores the data on tape. For later analysis purposes, the data can be read directly from tape. Optionally, re-storage to disk is possible – with a later re-storage to tape using a lifecycle policy.