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Analysis

Get storage off expensive tier 1 ASAP, says Tarmin as it launches Gridbank 1.5
Peter Williams By: Peter Williams, Practice Leader - IT Infrastructure Mgmt., Bloor Research
Published: 23rd April 2009
Copyright Bloor Research © 2009
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Tarmin Technologies has announced version 1.5 of its GridBank object-based storage archiving solution—with 64-bit Linux and Windows Server 2008 editions and new features especially focused on Microsoft's SharePoint.

The UK-based start-up says its aim is to greatly shrink an organisation's storage and data management total cost of ownership (TCO) to be achieved not least by automatically shifting data away from expensive tier 1 storage at the earliest opportunity.

GridBank is an early example of a new breed of data storage solutions designed to automate data management through applying policies—and it is these policies that are used to quickly shift data away from expensive real-time tier 1 storage on to tier 2 and archive.

Its enterprise-class active archiving is fairly heterogeneous—supporting Windows, Linux and several UNIX flavours, as well as VMware and HyperV virtual environments. So a user's CAPEX and OPEX can be reduced partly by it making use of existing industry-standard server and storage platforms in forming its grid-based active archive whose scalability is to petabytes.

Eric Herzog, Tarmin's VP of marketing and sales, told me the company's assessment of high end tier 1 15K rpm disk storage pricing versus tier 2 (e.g. SATA) typically showed a difference of 3–4 times—but could reach even 7+ times—for the same quantity of data with the same security. Moreover, while SNIA conservatively estimated 80% of data did not change after 90 days a survey of 900 mid-sized companies in Europe and US indicated at least 60% of the data did not change after five minutes of life!

So herein is a clear general message: Get the data off tier 1 as soon as possible as it will dramatically cut equipment CAPEX and OPEX without negatively impacting performance. Gearing policies to automate this process is a key part of what GridBank is about.

However, Herzog was anxious to point out that there was much more to this CAPEX/OPEX saving: "We manage virtual pools and don't care which hardware vendors—and thin provisioning means a ‘pay as you grow' model." In fact that is the way the software is priced; user licensing is for the whole product, the user paying only according to the amount of data being protected by the software.

Connection is IP (LAN or WAN) allowing remote archiving with policies also including identity-based security with support for LDAP and Active Directory (AD) at present. Metadata indexing can also be customised for more fine-grained migration of data.

At the other end of the data's life, GridBank supports the US Department of Defense (DoD) standard for digital data shredding; by automating this through policies the user can avoid forgetting to do this to comply with regulations leaving it open to litigation. Also pretty tight is support for nine levels of encryption, ranging from 448 bit Blowfish down to 64bit encryption or none. Everything is set during installation simply by radio-buttons; applying policies is a decision-tree process.

Version 1.5 includes seamless integration with SharePoint. GridBank supports Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 and Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 3.0; data storage policies can be applied to SharePoint data. There is now also support for over 500 different file formats which considerably broadens GridBank's indexing, search and e-discovery capabilities.

The web-based management console adds flexibility to management while custom policy template creation can help speed deployment when, say, new server resources are brought on-line. The metadata for policy action is limited to such things as file type, usage analysis, capacity consumption and file ageing; it does not delve into file content.

Also new is support for the Representational State Transfer (REST) industry-standard protocol to allow other applications to communicate with GridBank; it supports NTFS, CIFS, HTTP, WebDAV, FTP and a number of other industry-standard protocols.

What the software does not support is structured databases (other than indirectly SQL Server through SharePoint's use of it). Here Herzog pointed out the software should reduce the cost of SQL licences because of freed-up space and reduced data. IT supports single instancing (SI) of files and versioning (but not, for instance, de-duplication or CDP).

A secure, policy-based data management approach is likely to is become ever more attractive because it makes for a comparatively straightforward way of complying with changing regulations and corporate governance requirements for data. A search engine can assist in data discovery requests through retrieval when litigation kicks in but the quality and scope of the search engine needs consideration. (For instance, Herzog said GridBank's search engine can be set to access data sources otherwise outside GridBank protection.)

The company formally launched its GridBank ILM "cradle to grave" data storage management solution late last year - and general availability was as recent as February this year.

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Published by: IT Analysis Communications Ltd.
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