Lowering Long-term Archive Storage Costs with Crossroads Systems StrongBox

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1 BRAD JOHNS CONSULTING L.L.C Lowering Long-term Archive Storage Costs with Crossroads Systems StrongBox A 10 Year Total Cost of Operations comparison between Unified Storage and Crossroads Systems StrongBox with LTO Gen 6 tape Brad Johns, President Brad Johns Consulting L.L.C. April, Brad Johns Consulting L.L.C

2 Forward Lowering Long-term Archive Storage Costs with Crossroads Systems StrongBox In April 2012, the first version of this white paper was published which demonstrated a substantial potential total cost of ownership (TCO) savings through the use of Crossroads Systems StrongBox and LTO Ultrium Gen 5 tape for the storage of longterm archive data. Like many other parts of the information technology industry, new storage offerings have been introduced to the marketplace in the last year. Particularly interesting are new fundamental technologies such as the 4 TB Hard Disk Drives (HDD s) that are now beginning to be incorporated into high capacity storage systems and the new LTO Generation 6 tape drives which were announced and began shipping in 4Q In addition, new packaging and pricing has been introduced for the StrongBox archive solution. The question now is have the new technologies, especially the availability of 4 TB HDD s, changed the conclusions from the previous whitepaper? In addition, in some applications, the quantity of archive data is very large, so we have included not only an analysis of the same quantity of archive storage as last year, but added an analysis of 5 petabytes (PB) of primary archive data with 5 PB of copy data. This paper evaluates two approaches to storing these quantities of file based, noncompressible, archive data: 1) a solution that includes the new Crossroads Systems StrongBox configured with an enterprise tape library using the new LTO Ultrium Generation 6 tape drives and, 2) an equivalent amount of Unified Storage from a leading industry supplier that incorporates an estimate of the impact of 4 TB HDD s on the configuration and cost. Page 2

3 Introduction The amount of digital archive information continues to grow exponentially. Industry analysts and storage suppliers are projecting annual growth rates of 50% or more. There are many drivers for this dramatic growth, and individual organizations will experience different drivers, but at the end of the day, the storage manager in the IT department must cost effectively store a very large and growing amount of archive data while meeting organizational compliance requirements and service-level objectives. A comprehensive view of the long-term cost of archive storage requires the use of a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) methodology that incorporates the many components of cost including acquisition, support, energy and technology refreshes. This paper incorporates all these cost elements to compare the TCO of the Crossroads Systems StrongBox solution to an equivalent capacity Unified Storage solution. The vast majority of archive information is unstructured, with estimates of 80% or more of all digital data categorized as unstructured. Examples of this type of data include video files, scientific test data, digital medical records and seismic data. This data is typically accessed as files by the user and/or by the underlying content management application. In addition, much of this data is uncompressible. Either the data has been reduced through application level processing, or the nature of the data itself precludes the effective use of data reduction technology. In an ideal world, there would be an archive storage device similar to the Crystals used in science fiction movies. It would have a low acquisition cost, low maintenance cost, need little energy, be very space efficient, be extremely rugged, be highly reliable, be infinitely scalable, have a long life, provide fast access and also support very high transaction rates. Alas, a single storage technology that combines all these attributes together does not exist (yet). However, by intelligent integration of today s disk and tape storage, an archive storage solution that has many of the ideal future technology characteristics can be developed. Crossroads Systems has developed such an integrated, intelligent archive solution, the StrongBox LTFS NAS archive. StrongBox provides file system (NFS/CIFS) access to Page 3

4 information stored on the new LTO Gen 6 tape media using the open standard Linear Tape File System (LTFS) format. StrongBox bridges the performance differences between disk-based and tape-based archive solutions by providing the performance of disk storage and the economics of tape storage. Intelligent management of archive data by StrongBox supports file server performance levels by retaining file stubs, or whole files, on up to 75 TB of internal disk cache. This minimizes the time-to- data delays common with traditional tape architectures. In addition, Crossroads StrongBox leverages LTFS to enable a non-proprietary and fully portable storage solution for longterm data retention. StrongBox also provides robust archive data protection via its tape media monitoring capabilities as well as policy based second copy and replication features. Also enhancing its value as a long-term archive is the potential ability of StrongBox to transparently migrate archive information from one type of tape storage, say LTO Gen 6, to future tape formats, for example, LTO Gen 7 and beyond. An alternative archive solution is to use a disk-based technology such as a Unified Storage system. Unified Storage systems incorporate file access (NFS/CIFS) with block data access and are often positioned as Tier 2 archive storage solutions when configured with high capacity hard disk drives. These solutions provide fast data retrieval times and support very large capacity requirements. However, Unified Storage systems are typically more expensive to acquire and maintain, and also require more energy to operate and cool than equivalent capacity tape storage. On the other hand, tape storage provides very high capacities, low cost, and is very energy efficient but has traditionally had limitations from a transaction rate, sharing and access time perspective, which limited its usage in active archive environments. Methodology Overview This paper updates the spring 2012 analysis by including the latest LTO and HDD technology to answer the question: Which is less expensive to acquire and operate; Crossroads Systems StrongBox with LTO Gen 6 tape storage or an equivalent amount of Unified Storage incorporating the latest HDD technology? This report addresses this question using public and supplier provided information and making reasonable Page 4

5 assumptions about future storage capacities, prices, inflation rates, and technology refreshes. Like all forecasts, it is likely to be less than perfect, but our goal is not to be 100% accurate, rather, it is to provide guidance on likely relative costs of different archive storage strategies over time. The starting point for answering this question is determining the amount of information that must be stored and length of the analysis period. What was once considered a lot of information is now fairly common, with desktop PC s now supporting 4 TB internal hard drives and large data centers often containing multiple petabytes of disk storage capacity. We have assessed the TCO for two archive capacity scenarios; first, a 2 PB scenario that includes 1 PB of original data, 1 PB of copy data and a second, 10 PB scenario that includes 5 PB of original data and 5 PB of copy data. Archive data is likely to be kept for many years, even decades. However, our ability to project future storage technologies and prices decades in advance is at best suspect. Selecting a relevant period of analysis requires some amount of consideration, as the objective of the analysis is to develop a reasonable estimate of the longer term costs of storing the archive data. At the same time, the analysis period should not be so long as to render the later years to be nothing more than educated guesses. In light of these two competing factors, a ten year period is used. Ten years is long enough to provide real insight into the likely costs of storing large amounts of archive information while not requiring highly speculative assumptions about future storage technologies. The study assumes the full storage requirement is acquired at the start of the first year. Two storage solution configurations were configured; StrongBox with an enterprise class tape library using LTO Generation 6 tape drives and a Unified System from a leading storage supplier utilizing 4 TB 3.5 SAS HDD s (4 TB HDD). For the tape storage, tape media was purchased for both primary and copy data, with the copy cartridges being removed from the library. One refresh of the tape infrastructure is included in the analysis. The tape refresh is included in year 5 of the analysis, and uses the LTO Gen 8 tape roadmap capacity of 12.8 TB (native) per cartridge. Page 5

6 For the study s Unified Storage system, a solution from a leading supplier is configured with 4 TB HDD s. Four terabyte HDD s are now entering the marketplace. However, there is a lag time from general availability from the HDD supplier until they are integrated, tested and made available in enterprise storage solutions. This study estimates the usage of 4 TB HDD s by simply uplifting the HDD cost component (based on 3 TB HDD s) by the percentage increased in HDD capacity (33%). While this approach negates the potential cost savings due to a reduction in the HDD cost component, the higher capacity drives result in a significant reduction in the number of disk enclosures, controllers, software, and support costs. The system is also configured with RAID 6 to protect against dual HDD failures, and a 67% RAID 6 efficiency (useable to raw) rate was used to determine useable capacities. Projections of hard disk drive capacities are required for the two disk storage technology refreshes. We have projected that HDD capacities will increase 50% in every 3 year period. The effect of this projection is in the year 4 refresh, the HDD s have a 6 TB capacity and in year 7, they will have a 9 TB capacity. There are a number of other estimates required to complete a 10 year TCO analysis. These include energy prices, maintenance prices (both hardware and software) as well as the initial acquisition costs. The average commercial power used is.10/kwh as provided by the United States Energy Information Agency. These power costs are projected to grow 5% annually. Initial acquisition prices are based on publicly available list prices, and a 15% discount is used for hardware, software and maintenance. Technology refreshes are estimated to be made at the same price as the initial purchase, only with the correspondingly greater capacities as mentioned above. Once warranty expires, maintenance prices (both hardware and software) are also projected to grow at 5% annually. Findings The combination of StrongBox and an LTO tape library is forecasted to have a much lower TCO than an equivalent Unified Storage system. For the 2 PB total capacity scenario, the TCO for the new StrongBox solution is $1.1M compared to $7.0M for the Page 6

7 Unified Storage solution. Over the 10 years this is a savings of over $5.9M, which is more than 84% less than the equivalent amount of Unified Storage. Or looking at this savings from a slightly different perspective, this is a TCO savings of over $2900/TB of data. In addition, the energy efficiency of the StrongBox based solution is apparent, total energy requirements are 95% less. Figure 1 summarizes these findings. 2 PB - 10 Year TCO $8,000,000 $7,000,000 $6,000,000 $5,000,000 $4,000,000 $3,000,000 $197,000 $1,437,000 $5,443,000 Energy Support (Hardware and Software) Acquisition Costs (Hardware, Media and Software) $2,000,000 $1,000,000 $0 $10,000 $536,000 $578,000 StrongBox Solution Unified Storage Figure 1-10 Year TCO for a 2 PB archive The TCO savings grow even larger in the 10 PB scenario. The TCO for the StrongBox solution is $ 2.5 M versus the Unified Storage solution s $34.5 M. Over the 10 year period the StrongBox solution saving is $32 M, a 93% savings. The $/TB of TCO savings is $3200/TB. In addition, the power savings increase, with 98% less power being required. This clearly indicates that as archive storage requirements increase into the multiple PB range, the StrongBox solution provides ever greater savings. Figure 2 summarizes these findings. Page 7

8 10 PB - 10 Year TCO $35,000,000 $30,000,000 $941,000 $7,045,000 $25,000,000 Energy $20,000,000 Support (Hardware and Software) $15,000,000 $10,000,000 $26,554,000 Acquisition Costs (Hardware, Media and Software) $5,000,000 $0 $13,000 $1,004,000 $1,521,000 StrongBox Solution Unified Storage Figure 2-10 year TCO for 10 PB archive Summary Clearly, the combination of StrongBox and LTO Generation 6 tape storage presents an exciting new storage alternative for long-term archive data by providing a file system solution that incorporates the economics of tape. The emergence of new storage technologies has reduced the overall cost of the archive solution relative to last year s analysis regardless of technology. However, the StrongBox solution continues to have a compelling TCO benefit and the benefit increases as the archive storage size requirements grow. For many archive workloads the intelligent policy management provided by StrongBox will support file server type performance levels while also providing much lower costs. In addition, StrongBox incorporates features that are very important for long-term archive such as policy-driven data integrity, data protection and replication features. StrongBox is a compelling solution that could substantially reduce Page 8

9 overall storage operational costs for customers with large and growing archive requirements. Page 9

10 Appendix Lowering Long-term Archive Storage Costs with Crossroads Systems StrongBox Configuration Methodology There are a number of variables required to configure the archive storage systems. For tape storage these include the data compression ratio and the ratio of tape cartridges to tape drives. We have assumed that the data is non-compressible. The ratio of tape cartridges to tape drives must be appropriately balanced, as a tape configuration must be able to access a tape and mount it for read in a reasonable amount of time, or service levels suffer. The appropriate ratio of cartridges to drives for a given service level depends on the particular workloads being processed by the tape infrastructure. For this archive workload, we estimated a 1 tape drive for every 125 cartridges, with a minimum of at least four tape drives in the configuration. In addition, a tape library is required to contain the cartridges and the drives. This study uses the IBM System Storage TS3500 tape library. This tape library has been on the market since 2000 and has been enhanced significantly over time. It can scale up to 30 PB of storage and up to 192 LTO tape drives in a single library. In addition, the High Density Storage frame provides a very high capacity solution for archive data storage and is included in the library configuration. A 3584-L53 Tape Library Frame and a 3584-S54 High Density storage frame are configured with four LTO Gen 6 tape drives in the initial configuration. These are configured with a Crossroads System StrongBox model T20 with the latest pricing and features. One refresh of the tape infrastructure is included in the analysis. Fortunately, the LTO Consortium has published a roadmap of future tape drive capacities and has a demonstrated record of tracking to its roadmaps over the last ten years. The tape refresh is included in year 5 of the analysis, and uses the LTO Gen 8 tape media with a 12.8 TB/cartridge capacity. The prices for tape drives and media are assumed to be equal to current day Gen 6 technology. The resulting refresh results in the purchase of 4 LTO Gen 8 tape drives and media in the fifth year of the analysis. The Crossroads Systems StrongBox model varies by scenario. In the 2 PB scenario, a model T20 is utilized. In the 10 PB scenario, the larger T30 model is used. Page 10

11 The Unified Storage TCO is based on a new Unified Storage offering from a leading industry supplier; using anticipated 4 TB HDD s for the initial purchase. For purposes of this paper, Unified Storage is defined as a disk storage system that supports file access, via NFS/CIFS, and block level access. The sample system was chosen for a number of reasons; it s from a major supplier, it is a relatively new, competitive offering, and it has public pricing and configuration information readily available. This system provides very space efficient packaging: twelve 4 TB drives per enclosure for a raw capacity of 48 TB per enclosure. The system was configured with RAID 6 to protect against dual HDD failures in an archive environment, and a 67% RAID 6 efficiency (useable to raw) rate was used to estimate useable capacities. Projections of hard disk drive capacities are required for the two disk storage technology refreshes. The study estimates that HDD capacities will increase 50% in every 3 year period. The effect of this assumption is in year 4, hard disk drives will have a 6 TB capacity and in year 7, they will have a 9 TB capacity. A 3 year warranty for the Unified Storage system is assumed, so the technology refreshes eliminate hardware maintenance costs for most of the analysis period. The exception is year 10, where the acquisition cost of a new system would be far larger than the maintenance cost in the final year of the analysis. It s also worth noting the number of enclosures and controllers is reduced in each technology refresh, lowering software maintenance and energy costs with each refresh. Many of these configuration variables require important assumptions about the archive environment including: future prices, inflation rate and future storage systems configurations. Inevitably some of these future estimates are going to prove to be wrong. However, the objective of this report is not to provide exact costs, but rather, to provide general guidance as to the relative TCO of the various alternatives for storing long-term archive data. It is clear that the combined StrongBox, LTO Tape solution is a very cost effective approach to storing file archive data. Page 11

12 About the Author Brad Johns is the owner and President of Brad Johns Consulting L.L.C. His firm specializes in storage industry analysis and consulting. He started his information technology career as a sales trainee in the Data Processing Division of IBM in 1978 and subsequently held a number of sales and sales management positions in the Southwest. He went on to join the IBM Consulting Group and worked with a number of clients in the automotive and aerospace industries. He holds a Master in Business Administration and Bachelor s degree in Economics from the University of Arizona. His experience includes 14 years managing IBM storage marketing and product management in Tucson, Arizona. He can be reached at Regarding the information used in this report Brad Johns Consulting L.L.C. believes that the information in this report is accurate. The data was obtained from publicly available sources or provided by the supplier. However, given the complexity of the configurations, and the rapid changes in the market, it is possible that errors occurred; the author does not believe that they would materially change the conclusions. Information is provided "AS IS" without warranty of any kind. Disclosures Officers/employees of the company may own as individuals, directory or indirectly, shares in one or more of the companies discussed in this bulletin. Page 12

13 Trademarks and Special Notices 2013 Copyright Brad Johns Consulting L.L.C. All rights reserved. IBM, the IBM logo, and ibm.com are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. Linear Tape-Open, LTO, the LTO Logo, Ultrium, and the Ultrium logo are trademarks of HP, IBM Corp. and Quantum in the U.S. and other countries Other company, product, or service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. Page 13

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