And I’m not talking about a new tape standard, a new drive or a new library either! I’m talking about technology and software to make tapes more usable in this computing era.

As I wrote in one of my recent posts, today the biggest problem with tape is that it is a sequential media in a world of random requests… but it sounds like Spectra Logic is working to change that!

Tapes and object storage

Two days ago, during the Spectra Summit in Denver (CO), Spectra Logic announced the new DS3 (Deep Simple Storage Service) and, as the name suggests, it’s an Amazon S3 like REST interface that adds support for tapes. In other words this is a way to enable tape libraries to store objects on tapes (and that’s huge, indeed!).
Obviously, because of the nature of the tape, this is a viable option for big multi-PB cold archives and not for smaller and active ones.
The API and the tools that Spectra Logic made publicly available today is only the first step though: BlackPearl, that was launched alongside the API closes the loop.
I also checked the roadmap and the integration between DS3 with other elements of Spectra’s product line, this will put the entire stack in a very good position (especially when we talk about $/GB and TCO).

Two words on BlackPearl

BlackPearl 2U Appliance_AngleBlackPearl is the Appliance that acts as a gateway between a Spectra library and the rest of the world. The appliance offers flash drives for caching purposes and all the intelligence to correctly handle the library and the media (not only data movements but also media lifecycle management and more). One BlackPearl can manage up to four drives at once and you can add more BlackPearls if needed.
All data are accessed via the DS3 protocol by applications that have implemented a DS3 client (a complete set of development tools will be soon available on the Spectra Logic website).

bpDiagramOne good thing about BlackPearl (and DS3) is the ability to manage big and smaller files all together in buckets (a standard DS3 feature, one of those implemented specifically for the tape). Organizing small files in buckets allows a better efficiency in tape management and performance.
The product is not perfect though and needs enhancements on availability, reliability, performance, and communication with the client. It’s obviously a V1.0 product but Spectra Logic is well aware of that and some improvements are already planned.

Bottom line

Spectralogic impressed me in many ways during this event. The company is very focused and its strategy seems clear and solid (growth and revenues speak for themselves).
They know that today they strongly depend on backups (and all the complicated middleware software layer on top of their libraries!) but they are looking towards the future and the things that I saw in these two days confirm my first good impression.

DS3 and BlackPearl are a very interesting and, even if they aren’t flawless, they surely deserve a look from developers and enterprises with huge amounts of data to manage.


Disclaimer: I was invited to this meeting by Spectra Logic and they paid for travel and accommodation, I have not been compensated for my time and am not obliged to blog. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any other person than the Juku team.