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GCN : April 2015
26 GCN APRIL 2015 • GCN.COM STORAGE OPTIONS NERSC has a total of 72 petabytes of data stored on tape systems, some for long-term archival purposes and some to support ongoing projects. Although it is an older technology, tape is cost- effective, Hick said. “Tape is often reported to be dead or about to die,” Hick said. “One of our newest users, the Joint Genome Institute, didn’t use tape at all, only disk storage. They were struggling with how to store all of their data, and their bud- get was out of control. Yet they were very skeptical about why we would use tape. We have a lot of experience with tape, and we taught them about it. “Tape is not all great,” said Hick. “But in the end it solved their data growth and budget problem for storage.’’ Hick said tape offers significant cost and capacity advantages over disk sys- tems and is a viable solution for govern- ment data centers that are not keeping an archive because they think it is too expensive. “I talk to a lot of government sites that don’t have an archive. They are in com- pliance for email, but beyond that they don’t understand the value of retaining data,” Hick said. The Social Security Administration, which has little choice about whether to retain data or not, is looking toward a new approach to storage in the next year. SAA will migrate its mainframe backup and recovery operations from magnetic tape media to disk-based virtual tape. The Electronic Vault system will come online by the end of 2016 to support the agency’s new National Support Center. “Modern virtual tape systems have the performance and capacity to handle our backup requirements, while using significantly less data center floor space compared to magnetic tape media,” SSA said in a written response to GCN ques- tions about its storage systems. SSA’s commitment to virtual tape is significant, as it has 27 petabytes of raw deduplicated virtual tape and ap- proximately 50 petabytes of raw Direct Access Storage Devices (DASD) storage in three data centers. When SSA has fully migrated to the new National Support Center, it will have 30 petabytes of raw DASD, the agency said. SSA is deploying virtual tape systems from Oracle and EMC, which will provide the performance and capacity to handle backup requirements using significantly less data center f loor space compared to magnetic tape media. “ Virtual tape provides all of the advan- tages of modern disk-based storage at a price that is cheaper than magnetic tape media,” SSA said. The bottom line? “By the end of 2016, when our Electronic Vault be- comes fully operational, SSA will no longer have physical tape,” the agency vowed. • Goodhue pointed out that having a high-speed network connection doesn’t necessarily mean that data will transfer at a fast rate. He recommends data center operators consider the network protocols that they use, too. “There are protocols that are good at moving data over high-bandwidth links, and protocols that are not good at that,” Goodhue says. “We’ve had several instances where we had to re- think how we connected to locations to keep data in sync between two storage pools because the protocols that we had been using were either too sensitive to latency or very sensitive to high-bit errors.” • SSA is embracing virtualization across all of its media – including tape – as it migrates to a new 300,000 square-foot National Support Center in Urbana, Md., which opened last September. The agency has already virtualized much of its open system data stores, which are attached to HP, Oracle Solaris, VMware and Windows ser vers using storage-area networks and network- attached storage. Mainframe subsystems from EMC and IBM are virtually provi- sioned and auto-tiered, too. SSA says virtualization is improv- ing storage system usage and energy efficiency. “The virtualization and automated tiering of mainline mainframe and open systems storage subsystems have al- lowed us to service the increased input/ output (I/O) demands of the ser vers while consolidating data onto higher density media. This reduces both the physical and environmental footprint,” SSA said. At the same time, SSA is deduplicating its data to reduce the amount of storage required for backups. For example, SSA is seeing a deduplication reduction factor of 18:1 for tape backups on its open system platforms and 9:1 for the mainframe virtual tape subsystem. SSA said deduplication is giving the agency a significant environmental advantage. “Our continued migration from physical to virtual tape is provid- ing improved energy efficiency, reduced footprint and enhanced business resil- ience,” SSA said. SSA also virtualizes and auto-tiers its mainline DASD subsystems to support its I/O needs and slash its physical and en- vironmental footprint. SSA said heavily accessed data will reside on solid state drive (SSD) media while high capacity data will reside on high-density Serial ATA (SATA) media. The agency said government data 3. DON’T BE AFRAID OF TAPE, ESPECIALLY FOR ARCHIVES. 4. BOOST EFFICIENCY WITH STORAGE VIRTUALIZATION. 0415gcn_022-027.indd 26 3/30/15 3:57 PM