Storage Soup

Nov 16 2011   6:26PM GMT

Crossroads launches LTFS StrongBox

Sonia Lelii Sonia Lelii Profile: Sonia Lelii

Crossroads Systems this week said in December it will start shipping its NAS-based StrongBox data vault that supports Linear Tape File System (LTFS) to provide disk-like access capabilities across a back-end LTO-5 tape library for archiving.

StrongBox will be among the first products to take advantage of LTFS, which allows tape to act like disk so that users can retrieve data from LTO-5 cartridges by searching a file system directory. As a disk-based device, StrongBox ingests data and stores it on internal disk before archiving it to an external tape library. With LTFS, users no longer have to go through the cumbersome process of manually searching for data from tape.

“LTFS in itself is great, but how that technology is appropriated is what is important,” said Debasmita Roychowdhury, Crossroad Systems’ senior product manager for StrongBox. “With Strongbox, there is no dependency on backup and archiving applications. The tape behaves just like a file system.”

StongBox comes in two models. The T1 is a 1U server with 5.5 TB of capacity that supports 200 million files at a 160 MBps transfer rate over dual Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) ports. It can write data to LTO tape libraries or external disk arrays via dual 6 Gbps SAS ports. The T3 is a 3U device that can hold up to 14 TB of capacity and handle up to 5 billion files. It can input data at speeds up to 600 MBps over quad GbE ports, and write data to back-end tape libraries or disk arrays via four 6 Gbps SAS ports or four 8 Gbps Fibre Channel ports. Both models contain solid-state drives (SSDs) to backup the appliance configurations and a database to contain mapping file system data. Both versions support Windows, Linux, and Mac systems via CIFS or NFS network data protocols.

StrongBox allows IT managers to mount CIFS and NFS file shares, and the device provides a persistent view of all the files, whether stored on disk or tape. Data lands on the NAS system and it is stored onto disk for one hour after it was last modified. Thereafter, the files are read only, then policies are applied per file share, a hash is calculated for each file and then files are moved onto tape. For retrieval, data is pulled from tape onto the StrongBox and is sent to the application making the request.

LTFS allows tape to act like disk because it does media partitioning. One partition has a self-contained hierarchical file system index and a second partition holds the content. When a tape is loaded into a drive, the index and contents can be viewed by a browser or any application that has the tape attached to it. LTFS allows any computer to read data on an LTO-5 cartridge.

StrongBox has self-healing and monitoring capabilities that automatically detect media failures and degradation. If problems with the media are detected, it migrates data off the bad media to another non-disruptively. Future versions will have a dual-copy export policy, so that one tape can be shipped off for archiving, and a WAN-accelerated replication policy so that data can be replicated between two StrongBox systems.

Currently, StrongBox supports IBM and Hewlett-Packard tape libraries, and Crossroads is testing the product with libraries from Quantum and Spectra Logic. The T1 model is priced at $21,750 with 10 TB of capacity, while the T3 is priced at $30,700 with 10 Terabytes. To hold up to 5 billion files, it would cost another $4,560.

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