StorageTek system manages archives

StorageTek this week unveiled a new disk-based system designed to manage the storage and long-term archival of electronic content that does not change once it has been created, such as e-mail messages.

StorageTek's Lifecycle Fixed Content Manager (LFCM) 100, available immediately, joins other solutions that use hard disks instead of the traditional options of tape or optical disks to securely store electronic records for extended periods of time.

The primary market for such solutions, which also includes EMC's Centera system, are companies that must meet Securities and Exchange Commission electronic record retention regulations, which require that select electronic records are protected from modification or deletion.

Some government agencies might need the quick access to information that a disk-based system like the LFCM 100 offers compared to the slower performance of tape-based archives, said Harvey Andruss, product marketing manager for information life cycle management solutions at StorageTek.

In the past, enterprise-class hard-disk systems have been too expensive for most IT shops to use as long-term archives, hence the popularity of less costly tape systems for that purpose. However, in the past several years, vendors have taken less expensive Advanced Technology Attachment hard drives designed for desktop computers and begun to use them, with new features for performance and reliability added, in enterprise-class storage systems. This has made disk systems a more viable option for archival storage.

ATA disks are an important part of the LFCM 100, but the product depends on other features to enable it to serve as an effective and reliable platform for archival storage, Andruss said.

For example, the system uses a distributed hardware and software architecture called redundant array of inexpensive nodes for system reliability and easier expandability of storage capacity as requirements grow. The base option of the LFCM 100, which costs $74,000 and offers 2.3 terabytes of usable space, consists of two small servers that act as access nodes, four small servers that handle the storage management tasks and the ATA disk arrays. Connectivity between the nodes is provided by standard Gigabit Ethernet links.

Management software in the LFCM 100 handles tasks such as ensuring that records are retained for the required lengths of time, the records are protected from alteration and periodic checks of the records' integrity are done.

StorageTek has built the LFCM 100 to work in conjunction with various third-party software products, such as those from CommVault, IXOS Software and iLumin Software Services, which provide the first stage of archive management capabilities directly to popular e-mail applications. Andruss said StorageTek would work with other vendors so that the LFCM 100 can also work with products that provide broader content management capabilities for file types such as images, audio and other rich media applications.

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