What’s the Best Way to Store Unstructured Data? – Nodeum Briefing Note

The data storage world changes every day as do the demands of your organization. That means the best place to store your data today might not be the best place to store your data tomorrow.

There are high performance options, low cost options, long term retention options, not to mention multiple ways to buy storage products (own or rent). So what’s a storage practitioner to do?

It’s a Noisy Storage World

If you listen to the messaging coming from vendors it sounds like this. Flash vendors tell you their products offer the best performance for the buck. Object storage vendors tell you their storage systems are the best way to store data inexpensively. Cloud vendors (who are typically using object storage under the covers) tell you their services offer the benefits of object storage without the cyclical costs of purchasing your own storage. Tape vendors tell you it is hard to beat the per-gigabyte cost of tape in a robotic library. All of these vendors are correct, and it’s giving IT practitioners heartburn.

Introducing Nodeum

What if you could store your data in a way that allows you to leverage all of these technologies as they suit your needs? The challenge is in finding a product that crosses all of the boundaries: flash, hard drives, object storage, cloud storage, and especially tape. Which is why it was a pleasant surprise to attend a briefing with Nodeum and hear about its software-defined storage solution that does just that.

MT-C, the engineering company behind Nodeum has been around since 1997, and whose previous product, LMS, went into other companies’ products, including ADIC (now Quantum), StorageTek (now Oracle). After two years of R&D, Nodeum launched its latest product in 2016, and it is specifically aimed at unstructured data. It is especially looking at the media and entertainment, video surveillance, spatial, and biotech markets – all of which generate significant amounts of unstructured data that needs to be stored for long periods of time.

Nodeum offers a virtualized, software-defined storage and archive file system. Customers may ingest data into the file system via typical NAS protocols such as NFS and SMB. It can also specify how that data is to be stored via policy. Such rules can include number of copies, automated backup and archive, and integrity checking. Data is also catalogued in a database that is indexed for fast search. The product also supports attaching metadata and other tags to files to make them easier to find, and it supports searching for files via the content of the files themselves. The product integrates with active directory and LDAP for security.

Multi-level, multi-media tiering

The feature that makes this product rather unique though, is that it can automatically tier data between flash, hard drives, tape, and any S3-based storage system (i.e. private or public cloud). This means that if any of these choices becomes the right place to store a particular portion of your data, you simply need to purchase that product or license that service, then configure Nodeum to start using it.

It would be easy, for example, to specify that any data created or accessed within the last week should be stored on flash. Data older than that, but created or accessed within the last 90 days should be stored on standard disk. Then you could specify that all data, regardless of age, be copied to the S3 storage system of your choice and the tape system of your choice. (For maximum portability, Nodeum writes data to LTFS-capable media.)

StorageSwiss Take

It’s refreshing to see a storage product that is so flexible and allows you to decide how best to store your data. Most storage systems tend to push a particular paradigm, be it flash, object, or tape. A single product that can write to all of these storage technologies could be very useful to companies whose unstructured data growth is out of control.

W. Curtis Preston (aka Mr. Backup) is an expert in backup & recovery systems; a space he has been working in since 1993. He has written three books on the subject, Backup & Recovery, Using SANs and NAS, and Unix Backup & Recovery. Mr. Preston is a writer and has spoken at hundreds of seminars and conferences around the world. Preston’s mission is to arm today’s IT managers with truly unbiased information about today’s storage industry and its products.

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Posted in Briefing Note

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