ChalkTalk Video – Abstracting Disk and Tape To Solve The Unstructured Data Problem

Unstructured data are consuming vast amounts of disk capacity in data centers, breaking IT budgets. The sheer number of files that make up the unstructured data also breaks the data protection process. Most of this data has not been accessed in years and should be archived. But the mere mention of “archive” conjures up thoughts of complex, hard to manage collection of components that eventually becomes almost as expensive as the production storage it was designed to replace.

As we discuss in our video “Protecting Unstructured Data” part of this complexity comes from the fact that IT Professionals have to choose between two imperfect options when selecting the storage device to store archive data, disk or tape. They also have the difficult challenge of identifying and actually moving this old data from production storage to archive storage.

Abstraction is The Key To Archive Success

Just as abstraction has been the key to the success of server and storage virtualization, abstracting the archive targets and the movement of data to those targets is the key to archive success. This abstraction can be done by inserting an appliance in front of the archive targets, both disk AND tape. The appliance then presents the abstracted targets as a network share in which data can be copied into. As we describe in the video, think of it as the “/Archive” mount point.

The first benefit of this abstraction is that the IT Professional no longer needs to make a disk or tape decision. This allows each storage type to have its best attributes leveraged and its worst attributes minimized. The disk can provide more rapid access to recently archived data, the tape can provide long term, cost effective and power efficient storage.

The next benefit of this abstraction is to make the movement of this old data to the archive area easier, even seamless. Data movement can happen in one of three ways. The first is simply copying it to the network share. A task that many users can handle. The second is making the disk part of the abstracted archive actually store the production unstructured data store. The third is by using software on the production, storage devices to automatically copy data to the abstracted archive.


The abstraction of the archive storage devices makes creating and managing an archive significantly easier. With the complexity of the archive process removed the data center is now able to reap all the benefits of aggressively archiving unstructured data. The most important benefit being the near elimination of production storage growth.

Crossroads is a client of Storage Switzerland

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Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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