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Long-Term Data Retention: It's More Than Media

The other day I managed to get one of those rare moments where I was sitting with a group of storage guys that worked for vendors but weren't trying to sell me any thing, not even their companies' ideas. The topic of the conversation turned to long-term archiving, and I realized that we--as an industry--have been spending too much time worrying about where we store our data and not enough about how.

One member of our little group maintained that a disk array with spin-down MAID (or, massive array of idle disks) support, like a Nexsan SATABeast, was the best place for long-term data. He argued that the low cost of acquisition and low power consumption made simple RAID the best place for archival data.

Another liked EMC's new Data Domain archiving solution. Since the solution uses data deduplication, he contended the savings in floor space and power consumption would make up for the higher acquisition price.

The third brought up a problem inherent in either of the previous solutions--namely, that every five years or so you'd need to migrate your data from the disk array or dedupe appliance to a new model when your vendor terminated support for the old one.

He championed a scale-out archive storage system with a MAID architecture, like Dell's DX6000 or the HDS HCAP. As long as your vendor is still selling the archive platform, you can add new nodes with 2TByte drives to your cluster and have the system migrate your data to the new nodes and off the old nodes that have 250GByte nodes.

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