Sony’s Cold Storage Revolution: Optical Archiving
Tape-based cold storage is an antiquated technology, widely considered on its last legs for around two decades, that just keeps sticking around. However, Sony Optical Archive Inc. is pushing a new data center cold storage solution which utilizes another technology that has its own share of “the end is near” critics: optical storage. It’s called the Everspan Library System and it uses a higher-capacity, more-durable Blu-Ray iteration called Archival Disc. The goal of the system is to dramatically expand storage capacity at a fraction of the cost.
The current Everspan version hitting the market uses inexpensive 300GB optical discs as its storage medium. According to Sony, the Archival Disc is able to save the business on storage costs over the long haul because the medium can last upwards of 100 years in data center environments.
This is a big change when compared to tape and hard disk drive cold storage because those devices need to be refreshed or replaced on a five-to-seven year interval because they wear down from both use and time.
According to Fortune Magazine, the optical discs have a century-long lifespan when stored less than 86 degrees Fahrenheit in a room with less than 96 percent humidity. Since Archival disks don’t actually make physical contact with the reading and writing mechanism, they are more resilient to use-related wear. Sony also claims the medium is more energy efficient, using just 2kW to run a 181PB system compared to 9kW for a hard-drive based system because the discs do not need to use electricity when idle.
2) Resolving Backwards Compatibility
While the term “future proof” may sound pretentious in an industry that’s always pushing for new tech to replace old tech, the Everspan system addresses compatibility issues with interface standards. Standards like IDE, SCSI, SATA, and SAS make older devices incompatible with newer systems.
If Sony introduces a higher capacity optical disc for Everspan, the new hardware needed to support the new disc type won’t have any problems supporting older discs. According to Data Center Dynamics, the backwards compatibility support is akin to how Blu-ray players are able to support DVD and CD media without an issue.
Everspan is equipped to scale storage capacity and performance as a business needs it. The system uses three units: the base unit, robotic unit, and the expansion unit. Each system can expand its capacity by adding up to 14 of the expansion units for a total of 64 optical array drives and a staggering 181 Petabytes of storage. The arrays can move approximately 280 Mbps of data at any given time, which can expand to 18 Gbps in a fully upgraded system. Businesses that need more storage can combine up to four systems together for 724 PB of storage.
Tapes have never been popular to work with, so even from a data-management standpoint the Everspan system makes sense. Sony’s new technology could mark the end of tape-based storage.
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