News
3/20/2013
10:51 AM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

What Cloud? U.K. University Tries Tape For Backup

Anyone who says tape is 'dead' should talk with the University of Bristol IT team backing up 125 TB of data per week.

8 Great Cloud Storage Services
8 Great Cloud Storage Services
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Harvey Ditchfield and his boss, Graeme Cappi, spent years hemming and hawing about whether they should buy an archive for all that data growing bigger and bigger in the corner.

Finally, they gave in -- and say it was one of the best decisions they've ever made.

"We always suspected a lot of that data we were backing up constantly was no longer active," Ditchfield, a senior systems operator, told Information Week.

"But when we finally got round to archiving it, even I was surprised at how old some of this was and how long it had been since anyone had touched it. There's a real hidden data mountain here; I think having this archived is going to make a big difference for our backup capacity."

Ditchfield and Cappi, who is a senior systems administrator, both work in systems and operations, the central IT function of the U.K.'s University of Bristol, a major higher education institution which has more than 5,300 employees and around 20,000 students. All of whom generate a lot of data; Ditchfield estimates the team backs up around 125 TB a week from 450 to 500 servers. "The ability to move infrequently accessed data off primary storage and into an archive is an essential part of our future strategy," he stressed.

[ It may be time to say goodbye to some of that data you're sitting on. Are You A Data Hoarder? ]

Ditchfield said the team spent about a decade working up to the decision to get help on managing all this mountain of information. Last March that finally changed, when it tested technology from backup and archive specialist Spectra Logic, a trial so successful it's led to Bristol now going into production with a new tape-based platform, the T680.

While we all talk about cloud, said Ditchfield, tape still has a very large part to play. "We like the idea of having the data still easily at hand; we feel tape gives us that bit more control, too," he said.

In practical terms, the T680 is a 2-petabyte box where Cappi and Ditchfield can offload less-frequently accessed data from their primary disk storage to an active tape archive. StorHouse software from supplier FileTek is starting to be used to move the data from primary disk storage to the active tape archive, he added. That is expected to save some money, but the focus is less on immediate cash savings, said Ditchfield, than boosting overall storage and backup capacity across the university.

Ditchfield looked at other archive offerings, but says he really likes working with Spectra Logic, which he describes as a real "engineer's company." He also lauds its quality approach, citing how impressed he was by the fact that all physical media get swept by a special carbide cleaner before shipping to maximize its cleanliness, or how each tape is linked to a radio ID tag so managers always know each step of its journey through a system. The system's BlueScale encryption provides 256-bit AES security for stored data, and the built-in management system records more than 40 data points every time a tape is loaded.

"I also like the fact that this company wants to break into new markets like ours, so I feel it's 'hungry' and really wants to support us and do a good job," he added.

The next step will be to look at archiving not just the university's day-to-day data, but the swelling store of research the institution's academics and postgrads build up. To do so, he said, there is serious talk of buying a second library -- which sounds like pretty rapid progress for Bristol's data managers after so much initial hemming and hawing.

Attend Interop Las Vegas May 6-10 and learn the emerging trends in information risk management and security. Use Priority Code MPIWK by March 22 to save an additional $200 off the early bird discount on All Access and Conference Passes. Join us in Las Vegas for access to 125+ workshops and conference classes, 300+ exhibiting companies, and the latest technology. Register today!

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
Drew Conry-Murray
50%
50%
Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
3/20/2013 | 11:53:37 PM
re: What Cloud? U.K. University Tries Tape For Backup
For an archive, tape is a good idea, even if it does sound hopelessly antiquated in these days of cloud storage and SSDs. As Howard Marks noted in a blog post on Network Computing, "Tape users can probably go 10 years between data migrations. Tape vendors say data on tape is stable for 20 years, so tape should be readable after just 10." http://www.networkcomputing.co...

Drew Conry-Murray
Editor, Network Computing
Dakota Backup&Recovery
50%
50%
Dakota Backup&Recovery,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/21/2013 | 10:59:51 PM
re: What Cloud? U.K. University Tries Tape For Backup
At Dakota Backup & Recovery, we agree that keeping tape backup of data files on-site is a good ideaGǪof course, itGÇÖs only a good idea if it is implemented as a supplement in data backup and recovery.

Tape-based data storage is excellent for maintaining control and keeping files GÇÿeasily at hand.GÇÖ However, what would happen if the University of BristolGÇÖs data archives were subjected to disaster or human error, or were in some other way compromised? In addition, it seems like a costly solution to have to keep adding data archives as university data continues to growGǪ

Remote offsite backup with cloud-managed software accomplishes the same goals as tape-based backup, but it also accounts for disaster recovery, autonomic healing, restore validation, and data security encryption.With cloud-based solutions, simple file restores are done in seconds - with traditional tape backup, restores can take minutes, or even hours. We go into more detail on the subject here: http://www.dakotabackup.com/ne....
Storage Monkey
50%
50%
Storage Monkey,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/26/2013 | 2:03:20 PM
re: What Cloud? U.K. University Tries Tape For Backup
You are a smidgen off of the mark. (For clarity, the preceding was written with a thick smog of sarcasm enveloping it)

The storage platform at Bristol University protects data against both disasters and/or human error, with the solution designed to incorporate infrastructure across two sites and multiple hardware components.

Quite simply - this system is far, far more than just backup. It serves a backup function as any data ingested into StorHouse can be removed from a backup regime, but the main function is the provision of a mechanism for storing vast amounts of (ever increasing) data very easily. Whether local or external storage is used, the University will always need to spend money on storage as data volumes increase - they won't be given it for free.

What we're talking about here is a peta-scale nearline storage platform that means data can be securely stored, maintained (without even a hint of silent corruption or bit rot occurring) and always kept online. How do you propose that any cloud storage vendor provides online and high-speed read & write access to multi-petabyte volumes of data?

Your comment regarding file restores is irrelevant.

And, for reference, disk is a much more suitable platform for "keeping files 'easily at hand'" than tape given accessibility characteristics.
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
Partner Perspectives
What's This?
In a digital world inundated with advanced security threats, Intel Security seeks to transform how we live and work to keep our information secure. Through hardware and software development, Intel Security delivers robust solutions that integrate security into every layer of every digital device. In combining the security expertise of McAfee with the innovation, performance, and trust of Intel, this vision becomes a reality.

As we rely on technology to enhance our everyday and business life, we must too consider the security of the intellectual property and confidential data that is housed on these devices. As we increase the number of devices we use, we increase the number of gateways and opportunity for security threats. Intel Security takes the “security connected” approach to ensure that every device is secure, and that all security solutions are seamlessly integrated.
Featured Writers
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading's October Tech Digest
Fast data analysis can stymie attacks and strengthen enterprise security. Does your team have the data smarts?
Flash Poll
10 Recommendations for Outsourcing Security
10 Recommendations for Outsourcing Security
Enterprises today have a wide range of third-party options to help improve their defenses, including MSSPs, auditing and penetration testing, and DDoS protection. But are there situations in which a service provider might actually increase risk?
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-3409
Published: 2014-10-25
The Ethernet Connectivity Fault Management (CFM) handling feature in Cisco IOS 12.2(33)SRE9a and earlier and IOS XE 3.13S and earlier allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (device reload) via malformed CFM packets, aka Bug ID CSCuq93406.

CVE-2014-4620
Published: 2014-10-25
The EMC NetWorker Module for MEDITECH (aka NMMEDI) 3.0 build 87 through 90, when EMC RecoverPoint and Plink are used, stores cleartext RecoverPoint Appliance credentials in nsrmedisv.raw log files, which allows local users to obtain sensitive information by reading these files.

CVE-2014-4623
Published: 2014-10-25
EMC Avamar 6.0.x, 6.1.x, and 7.0.x in Avamar Data Store (ADS) GEN4(S) and Avamar Virtual Edition (AVE), when Password Hardening before 2.0.0.4 is enabled, uses UNIX DES crypt for password hashing, which makes it easier for context-dependent attackers to obtain cleartext passwords via a brute-force a...

CVE-2014-4624
Published: 2014-10-25
EMC Avamar Data Store (ADS) and Avamar Virtual Edition (AVE) 6.x and 7.0.x through 7.0.2-43 do not require authentication for Java API calls, which allows remote attackers to discover grid MCUser and GSAN passwords via a crafted call.

CVE-2014-6151
Published: 2014-10-25
CRLF injection vulnerability in IBM Tivoli Integrated Portal (TIP) 2.2.x allows remote authenticated users to inject arbitrary HTTP headers and conduct HTTP response splitting attacks via unspecified vectors.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Follow Dark Reading editors into the field as they talk with noted experts from the security world.