Storage vendor makes inroads

Several federal agencies have recently turned to Advanced Digital Information Corp. (ADIC) for help building storage management systems that can absorb huge volumes of new data created each day.

An Air Force Research Laboratory and the Internal Revenue Service are among the federal customers now using ADIC's StorNext Management Suite, introduced six months ago.

The software addresses common challenges each agency faces: how to take a continuous stream of new data — sometimes up to several terabytes a day — and automatically move it from fast but expensive online disk to less costly tape libraries, all the while keeping it backed up and accessible to users any time they need it.

For example, researchers using adaptive optical telescopes at the Air Force's Directed Energy Directorate's Starfire Optical Range collect up to 500 gigabytes of new data per day, which must be retained for later analysis, according to Terry Duncan, engineering director at the range. However, the laboratory has only 40 terabytes of online disk storage available, not nearly enough to hold all the data the multiyear project will create.

The solution for Duncan's team was ADIC's StorNext software, along with the company's Scalar 10K tape library. The setup "automatically moves data between our [tape] library and our disk," Duncan said. "Any time researchers need data to analyze, the system writes it from the library to the disk, and it's available almost immediately."

The system also handles data backup. "We set the system to replicate data as soon as it is written to tape — for us that happens as soon as data is initially staged, so we never have more than an hour of single data set exposure," Duncan said. "We then move the replicated data to a vault for off-site protection, while the primary data remains available in the library."

Elsewhere, the IRS is using the StorNext software to absorb the "terabytes" of log file data generated daily by the agency's many Oracle Corp. databases, according to Paul Rutherford, ADIC's vice president of software development.

"They would have this log data on local disks, but then every night move it to archives to keep the disks from filling up, which was a real pain," Rutherford said. "With the StorNext file system, we gave them what works like an endless bit bucket, with an automated way of retaining that data and keeping it on the right storage media [disk or tape] for the access they need."

In other news, supercomputer manufacturer Cray Inc. announced last month that it will use ADIC's StorNext File System as the primary storage-area network file system in its new Cray X1 supercomputer, which began shipping last week. The file system will be configured for Cray's UNICOS operating system and will be delivered with every Cray X1 system.

"Providing access to and managing extremely large data sets was one of our critical needs," said Dave Kiefer, Cray's vice president of product engineering and manufacturing. "We selected ADIC because of its high performance, highly scalable, robust file system technology."

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