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Spectra Logic launches stand-alone storage management software

StorCycle is Spectra Logic's first software product not tied to any of the company's hardware. It provides HTML links to simplify accessing archived data.

Spectra Logic's new storage management software can search through high-cost primary storage for inactive data and move it to a lower-cost tier, regardless of who makes the hardware.

StorCycle was released today, and unlike the operational software for Spectra Logic's tape, object and disk storage appliances, it is completely stand-alone. It is installed on a virtual machine or dedicated server that sits between the primary storage tier and a perpetual storage tier, where it migrates inactive data from the former to the latter.

Spectra Logic separates storage into two tiers. The primary tier consists of fast, high-cost storage like flash and high-performance disk, while the perpetual storage tier consists of slower, low-cost storage like tape, object storage, network-attached storage and the public cloud. Moving infrequently used data out of the primary tier saves money, and StorCycle is designed to streamline that migration.

"StorCycle is the glue that ties these two tiers together," said David Feller, vice president of product management and solutions engineering at Spectra Logic.

Automated data tiering is not new. Cloud file system startup Elastifile, which was bought by Google earlier this year, supports tiering to on-premises bare-metal servers, AWS and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). NetApp Cloud Volumes OnTap and Hitachi Vantara have similar storage optimization capabilities for hybrid environments, and Druva recently introduced a capability to optimize storage among different AWS tiers.

StorCycle is the glue that ties these two tiers together.
David FellerVice president of product management and solutions engineering, Spectra Logic

Spectra Logic's offering stands out in that it is a very simple and complete product, said Mark Peters, principal analyst and practice director at IT analyst, research and validation firm Enterprise Strategy Group. Peters said while StorCycle is standalone, the fact that a customer can buy it with compatible secondary storage hardware spanning disk, object store and tape is a distinct advantage.

StorCycle's most notable feature, though, is how it places an HTML link in the file's original location pointing to where the archived file has been moved to. Peters said this helps prevent systems from timing out when trying to retrieve data from a high-latency source, such as tape or public cloud. More importantly, he said this simplifies the recall and recovery process for users, as they can access their archived data from where it was originally.

Peters said organizations need to be careful when evaluating storage management software, as it's possible they could increase their overall costs rather than saving money. StorCycle needs to be installed on a VM or dedicated server, which is a relatively minimal expense, but some products may call for additional primary storage. He encouraged buyers to "do their homework," and ensure that their storage management software costs don't exceed their savings.

Peters also said some organizations develop automated data tiering in-house, which is potentially cheaper than buying third-party storage management software. However, this introduces a layer of complexity and could create a legacy problem down the line.

"They can potentially run into trouble if the person who developed the application leaves," Peters said.

screenshot of StorCycle
StorCycle moves inactive data to colder storage tiers and replaces the files with an HTML link for easy access and restore.

StorCycle can automatically detect inactive data and migrate it, but it also includes a feature for "project-based" migrations. Users can tag data sets to be moved to the perpetual tier, and StorCycle will perpetually move new data with that tag out of primary. When data generation for the project is complete, all of its related data is in the same place in the perpetual tier, ready for further analysis. Feller said ideal use cases for this include sensor-based and machine-gathered data, such as seismology studies or autonomous car research.

StorCycle enters beta today, with general availability slated for November 2019. The initial release will support AWS and Wasabi cloud, with support for Microsoft Azure and GCP in the works. The first release will need to be installed on VMs or servers running Windows systems, but support for Linux is being planned.

Spectra Logic did not have price details for StorCycle but stated it will be available both as a perpetual license and as an annual subscription license.

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