Workflows move LTO to Active Storage
June 2012 - At the 2012 Creative Storage Conference, we had a chance to talk to Molly Rector of Spectra about their media oriented tape solution. They started in the Media and Entertainment sector in the 1990's with Sony AIT tape. In 2003, they moved to LTO tape and are now supporting LTO5 storage with the LTFS file system. This is primarily used for large, long term archive applications. These solutions are also being placed in the HPC and Sensor data collection communities.
A key for these applications is the need start an active stream from a data access request in under 60 seconds. Using the metadata and new indexes available with LTFS, these tape assets can be moved from being just long term storage to being high capacity active storage. The new solution, with an SSD front end for the metadata and query access allows for the start of streaming from the tapes in the 1 minute window. As the files are typically large (GB range) they require a finite time to complete streaming regardless of what media they are stored on.
The big advantages of the tape solution for these storage blocks is the cost of the media, and the Bit Error Rate (BER). The BER is several orders of magnitude better on tape than os some of the high access speed mediums available. As a result, final results can more easily and readily be duplicated for distribution and work in progress will not cause delays in the workflow due to no-availability of data from a data corruption. These solutions are in production and have been installed at many direct facilities as well as several cloud service providers.