I have closet in my house that I keep all kinds of computer gear. Most are things from some fun project that I was working or a technology that is past is prime. There is everything from Zip drives to coax termination to a Ultra-wide scsi interface for an external CDROM. Why do I keep these things in a box in a closet? Great question that usually comes up one a year from some family member that sticks there head in there looking for a toy, coat or looking to make a point.
But on more than one occasion I have had to go to the closet of ‘junk’ to get something that helped me in completing a project. A Cat5 cable for my son’s computer, an extra wireless mouse when my other one died. Yes I could go through it all and sort it out and come up with some nice labels for it all, but that takes time. It’s just easier to close the container lid and forget about it until I realize I need something and its easy enough to grab it.
Now this is not a hoarding issue like those you see on TV where people fill their house, garage, sheds and barns with all kinds of things. Those people who show up on TV have taking the ‘collecting’ business to another level and some call them ‘hoarders’. But if you watch shows like “American Pickers” on the History Chanel, you will notice that most of the ‘hoarders’ know what they have and where, a meta data knowledge of their antiques.
When you look at how businesses are storing their data today, most are looking to keep as much as possible in production. Data that is no longer serving a real purpose but storage admins are too gun shy to hit the delete button on it for fear of some VMWare admin calling up to see why their Windows NT 4 server is not responding. If you have tools that can move data around based on the age or last accessed then you have made a great leap into making savings. But these older ILM systems can not handle the growth of unstructured data of 2017.
Companies want to be able to create a container for the data and not have to worry if the data is on prem, off prem, on disk or tape. Set it and forget it is the basic rule of thumb. But this becomes difficult due to the nature of data as it has many different values depending on who you ask. A 2 year old invoice is not as valuable to someone in Engineering as it is to the AR person who is using it to base their next billing cycle.
One of the better ways to cut through the issue is to have a flexible platform that can move data from expensive flash down to tape and cloud with out changing the way people access the data. If the user can not tell the difference where his data is coming from and does not have to change the way he gets to it then why not look at putting the cold data on something low cost like tape and cloud tape.
This type of system can be accomplished but using the IBM Spectrum Scale platform. The file system has a global name space across all of the different types of media and can even use the cloud as a place to store data without changing the way the end user will access the data. The file movement is policy based and allows admins to not ask the user if the data is needed, it simply can move it to a lower cost as it gets older/colder. The best part is because of a new licensing scheme, customers only pay the TB license for data that is on disk and flash. Any data that sits on Tape does not contribute to the overall license cost.
For example: 500TB of data, 100 TBs that is less than 30 days old and 400 that will greater than 30 days. If stored on a Spectrum Scale file system, you only have to pay for the 100 TBs that is being stored on disk and not the 400 TB on tape. This greatly reduces the cost to store data as while not taking features away from our customers.
For more great information on the IBM Spectrum Scale go here to this link and catch up.
Currently, I am working with a customer on their archive data and we are discussing which is the better medium for their data that never gets read back into their environment. They have about 200TB of data that is sitting on their Tier 1 that is not being accessed, ever. The crazy part is this data is growing faster than the database that is being accessed by their main program.
This is starting to pop up more and more as the unstructured data is eating up storage systems and not being used very frequently. I have heard this called dark data or cold data. In this case its frozen data.
We started looking at what it would cost them over a 5 year period to store their data on both tape and cloud. Yes, that four letter word is still a very good option for most customers. We wanted to keep the exercise simple so we agreed that 200TB would be the size of the data and there would be no recalls on the data. We know most cloud providers charge extra for the recalls so we wanted and of course the tape system doesn’t have that extra cost so we wanted an apples to apples comparison. As close as we could.
For the cloud we used Amazon Glacier pricing which is about $0.007 per GB per month. Our formula for cloud:
200TB X 1000GB X $0.007 x 60 months = $84,000
The tape side of the equation was a little more tricky but we decided that we would just look at the tape media and tape library in comparison. I picked an middle of the road tape library and the new LTO7 media.
Tape Library TS3200 street price $10,000 + 48 LTO7 tapes (@ $150 each) = $17,200
We then looked at the ability to scale and what would happen if they factored in their growth rate. They are growing at 20% annually which translates to 40TB a year. Keeping the same platforms what would be their 5 year cost? Cloud was..
200TB + (Growth of 3.33TB per month) x 1000GB x 60 months = $125,258
Tape was calculated at:
$10,000 for the library + (396TB/6TB LTO7s capacity)x$150 per tape = $19,900
We all here how cloud is so much cheap and easier to scale but after doing this quick back of the napkin math I am not so sure. I know what some of you are saying that we didn’t calculate the server costs and the 4 FTEs it takes to manage a tape system. I agree this is basic but in this example this is a small to medium size company that is trying to invest money into getting their product off the ground. The tape library is fairly small and should be a set it and forget it type of solution. I doubt there will much more overhead for the tape solution than a cloud. Maybe not as cool or flashy but for $100,000 over 5 years they can go out and buy their 5 person IT staff a $100 lunch everyday, all five years.
So to those who think tape is a four letter word and is that thing in the corner that no one wants to deal with, I say embrace it and squeeze the value out of them. Most IT shops have tape still and can show to their finical teams how they can lower their cost with out putting their data at risk in the cloud with this: