Capitalize on the New Corporate Drive to Archive

Organizations rarely get excited about the prospect of archiving their data to either meet a legislated data retention requirement or satisfy some compliance mandate. Yet as organizations archive their data, new opportunities emerge to lower their storage costs as well as derive more value from their archived data. Using the Nexsan Assureon v7 platform, organizations can capitalize on their archival data stores by driving down storage costs even as they position themselves to glean more value from their archived data stores.

Archiving is gaining momentum as a recent analyst study revealed that corporations are investing more in this technology. A 2012 IDC worldwide storage software market report highlighted that even as the growth of storage software in general remains flat, archiving software was a bright spot coming in #2 behind only data protection and recovery software in terms of its year over year growth.

Despite this growing corporate trend to invest in archival software, it can be argued that many companies still archive out of obligation rather than out of desire. The mandates handed down by the various regulatory agencies to the financial and healthcare industries over the last few years gave companies a great deal of motivation to implement archiving to secure and preserve their data. One only needs to look at archiving solution provider case studies to see that financial institutions and medical centers are the ones typically cited as adopting archiving.

Yet as these companies archive their data, they are discovering that archiving offers more benefits than simply ensuring compliance with the various regulations to which they are subject. Archiving can be more cost effective than keeping data on primary storage while positioning organizations to eventually glean more value from their data – assuming they deploy the right archival solution.

This is where the Nexsan Assureon enters the picture. Unlike other archival appliances that only function as a NAS target, the Nexsan Assureon delivers a fully featured archival solution that potentially eliminates the need for an organization to buy multiple products as it bundles hardware and software together in a single SKU. It is with the release of the Assureon V7 that organizations can have more confidence than ever that the Assureon provides the full set of features that organizations need to meet their short and long term archival obligations.

To handle the growing amounts of data that all size companies are being asked to archive and preserve, the largest Assureon V7 scales up to 200 TB of available storage capacity. It complements this appliance with the Assureon Edge that is intended for archiving data in Linux and UNIX environments as well as smaller Windows environments. The Edge appliance first ingests the archival data from these operating systems before optionally feeding it into a larger Assureon archive appliance.

The real value of the Assureon V7 is in its software. Even before the release of the V7 software, Assureon shipped in a client/server architecture that facilitated:

  • The seamless archive of data onto the Assureon appliance
  • Storage optimization through the use of hashing and then storing each file as an object (this is a type of data deduplication)
  • Ongoing integrity checking of the data stored on the Assureon to include the automatic detection and repair of any files determined to be faulty
  • AES256 data encryption

The Assureon V7 software release builds upon these existing features. First, to make the introduction of archiving appear as seamless as possible to an existing Windows NAS environment, Assureon V7 expanded on its unique virtual shortcut capability in its client software. As files are archived, the Assureon client continues to present the archived file to the application or user as though the file was still on the file server. Then should the application or user request the file, the client seamlessly captures the request and redirects it to the Assureon appliance which then presents the file.

The virtual shortcut feature becomes even more valuable in environments that use multiple Assureon Edge appliances in a clustered NAS configuration. Once data is archived to an Edge device that is part of a clustered configuration, the Edge device replicates the data to a central, larger capacity Assureon appliance. This central Assureon appliance then makes that data available through any Edge device in the cluster. Since the virtual shortcut feature is always aware through which Assureon appliance archived data is accessible, any server can access this archived data through any Assureon Edge device and do so almost as fast as if they were accessing data on a production file server (only millisecond response times.)

Second, to satisfy the security concerns that all organizations have, the Assureon V7 integrates with Windows NTFS and Active Directory (AD) to authenticate users accessing the archive to verify they have permission to do so. Once in the archive, Assureon then uses AD to log their activities.

Finally, Assureon V7 takes new steps to ensure that all data is available at all times without negatively impacting production work during the actual archiving process itself. As data is archived, the potential exists that it may be unavailable during the time it is being archived. Assureon V7 addresses this concern by leaving the file in its original location until it is archived.

As the Assureon archives data it also takes steps to prevent the archiving process from negatively impacting either files in production or on the Assureon solution itself. To do this it uses a throttling technique to ensure data is archived at a rate appropriate to the environment in which it is operating. It is only once the file is archived and the virtual shortcuts updated and distributed to the Assureon clients that the file in the original location is removed.

Organizations may in some cases be forced into archiving their data but smart organizations should treat this as positive and capitalize on this requirement. As organizations are forced to deal with ever larger data stores with the same amount in the budget, using a solution such as the Nexsan Assureon V7 that includes both hardware and software gives them the opportunity to leverage archiving in a much larger context.

The software on the Assureon V7 ensures that their archived data may be efficiently, quickly and securely access and stored while the hardware provides them the performance and scalability they need to cost-effectively meet their short and long term data storage requirements. However it is the accessibility and architecture of the Assureon that becomes the real plus because as organizations look to more fully understand and mine their data archives in the future, the Assureon makes their archives immediately and readily available to them.

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