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Optimizing Object Storage with Tape Archiving Software: Executive Q&A with Chris Kehoe, Director of Sales & Marketing

Reading Time: 3 minutes

March 9, 2022

In this executive Q&A, Chris Kehoe, Director of Sales & Marketing, discusses his role at FUJIFILM Recording Media U.S.A. and how the company’s Object Archive software helps solve a major customer pain point as data continues to grow yet resources and budgets do not.

Q: Tell us about your role as Director of Sales and Marketing for Fujifilm’s Data Management Solutions?

As the Director of Sales and Marketing for Fujifilm’s Data Management Solutions, I’m tasked with bringing Fujifilm’s Object Archive software product to the North American market. This includes implementing a sales and marketing strategy for specific target markets.  My team provides full support for demand generation, sales, and post-sales activities such as installation and support.  There are two major focal points in these roles; the first is building and implementing a focused, market-based approach ensuring our product values intersect the market and customers’ needs.  The second is ensuring the best customer experience while working with Fujifilm products, people, and resellers.  This includes on-the-street sales and engineering readiness and customer support capabilities to ensure a fully capable delivery of exceptional customer satisfaction.

“Object Archive delivers low-cost storage and high reliability for long term data archiving and preservation,” – Chris Kehoe

Q: What are the key features and benefits of Object Archive software?

Object Archive software operates like an on-premise cloud archive service through its simple-to-use S3 API and cross-organization and multi-tenant capabilities.  By leveraging today’s highly advanced data tape, automated tape libraries, and state-of-the-art software, Object Archive delivers low-cost storage and high reliability for long-term data archiving and preservation. This solves a major customer pain point as data continues to grow yet resources and budgets do not.

Q: What is your basic go-to-market strategy and what are your key target markets?

Our basic go-to-market strategy is to sell Object Archive into the North American market through Fujifilm’s VAR channel.  One of our primary targets is the computational science and digital preservation departments inside of the non-profit research, research universities, and government labs. These customers have a critical need to properly classify data and to move that data as it ages and cools to the right storage, at the right time and cost. Object Archive supports that strategy very effectively.

Q: What’s your perspective on tape technology and its future?

Tape technology is uniquely suited as the only technology that has the capability to scale in terms of the capacity that is required to specifically meet the long-term retention needs resulting from the significant projected growth of data.  There is no other solution that can achieve similar cost, performance, and retention metrics. Tape has a significant advantage when it comes to TCO, has plenty of performance for the profile of data that it stores and protects, and a long archival life beyond what is probably needed. Add to that best-in-class reliability and the benefit of the lowest energy-consuming data storage solution available. That’s important at a time when sustainability and climate change are becoming a priority for just about everyone.

Q: What is your perspective on cybercrime and the benefits of air gap?

Air gap is a no brainer for tape systems, since the beginning of its development, tape has been designed and used to manage and protect data against online and physical threats and disasters. Moving a copy of your data to offline tape means that this data is no longer connected to the network, it’s removed from the threat matrix of online attacks.  Moving a copy of your data to a secure offsite vault will protect your data from numerous threats and disasters. It has always been a best practice across all organizations to have a fully protected copy of data offline.  This is even more critical today since the threat of cybercrime and ransomware is not going away anytime soon. In fact, it will only continue to increase and we’re glad to help our customers protect themselves.

For more information, visit https://www.datastorage-na.fujifilm.com/object-archive

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A Neat Solution for Tape Stacking and Migration

Reading Time: 4 minutes

By Andy Feather

I often hear from customers that are sitting on scores of legacy tapes with unknown contents beyond a generic “business data” level, and 99+ percent of them are not known at a granular level. As we all know too well, disaster recovery backups morphed into unintentional data archiving these past 10 – 15 years thanks to litigation and government regulatory investigations, along with general business obligations to retain certain records.  The duty to preserve has forced businesses to preserve backup tapes if at least one file on the tape might be under some form of preservation obligation.  The IT staff almost never has the equipment or human resources to perform targeted restores of data under preservation and stack it together with other similar data, so they take the easy way out: buy more tape and retain existing tapes vs. overwriting their contents.  Companies change backup software providers and migrate to newer backup platforms and get stuck paying maintenance and support for software and hardware they no longer use, but might one day.

An additional problem lies in the fact that companies are waking up and realizing that while tape as a storage mechanism is a great value, the real estate and costs associated with parking and retaining them in mass quantities can add up.  In response, companies like Seagate and TapeArk offer to move large volumes of data into the cloud, but does this provide value to the customer?  Why pay to migrate thousands of tapes to the cloud on the chance that you might one day need to access them?

So I came across a neat solution to this problem from a service provider/software developer named SullivanStricklerout of Atlanta. They recognize the gap between the status quo and the cloud and created TRACS/TDF and TRACS/TSF.  TRACS stands for Tape Restoration and Cataloging System, TDF for Tape Duplicate File and TSF for Tape Session File. TDF and TSF files are both file containers which consist of data from legacy backup tapes, regardless of the source tape type and backup software format. TDF and TSF provide customers with a catalog of the contents of the tape and the ability to immediately restore the contents of the once backup tape, now TDF or TSF file, and/or stack and store the TDF/TSF files onto newer, higher capacity media using LTFS or some other backup software.

The economics of tape stacking have been explored for years, but the “value” of the exercise provided little ROI until 6.0 TB LTO-7 tapes arrived.  The combination of reducing the storage costs associated with 60 LTO-1 (100 GB) tapes and replacing them with one LTO-7 tape, along with the increased value of discovering the contents of long forgotten backups and never having to pay licensing and support fees for technologies you no longer use, combine to provide the justification for businesses to begin to explore a stacking/migration effort.

Some customers ask, “But if I am going to undertake this effort, why do I need to migrate everything instead of only what I need to keep?”  This is a very valid question, and is a good segue into the differences between TRACS/TDF and TRACS/TSF files.

TDF or Tape Duplicate File, is a byte-for-byte copy of the source tape, with the addition of a catalog of the tape contents appended to the file.  Files ranging in quantity from one to all can be restored from a TDF file, and as a bonus the conversion process is reversible.  This means that customers who convert from tape to TDF format can ultimately rewrite the data back out to tape so that it can once again be used by the backup software which originally created the tape, should there ever be a need.

TSF, or Tape Session File, differs slightly from a TDF file.  Whereas a TDF file is a duplicate copy of an entire tape in one logical volume container, a TSF file is an individual logical session container from a tape.  A TSF file can be created for one backup session, up to all of the backup sessions on the tape.  TSF files are exciting because of the business value they provide.  TDF files provide great value due to the stacking and cataloging elements, but TSF files allow users to pick and choose which backup sessions to retain and which can be deleted.  If a company’s preservation requirements are such that they need to retain all backups of their email system and their file servers, but not their domain controllers, print servers, departmental databases, etc., then TSF files allow them to do this by breaking up the “if I need one file I need to keep the entire tape” limitation.   This process results in an even larger business value than TDF through the reduction in risk associated with retaining data which need not be retained, and since not all sessions will be retained by customers, the reduction in data volume is multiplied.

Additionally, with one eye on the growing number of state, national and international regulations concerning data privacy and information governance, such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or California’s Consumer Privacy Act, TSF allows for the defensible deletion of files stored within backups, without impacting the remaining backed up files.  This type of targeted deletion of data originating from tape is quite unique, and all performed without restoring the data from a single tape.

Of course there are other solutions but I like the simplicity and logic of TRACS/TDF and TRACS/TSF. Certainly it’s more practical and affordable than what Seagate and TapeArk propose!

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