Permabit makes secondary storage its primary goal

Permabit offers customers a way to move data off expensive tier 1 storage, claiming it can reduce the cost of storage to less than $1 per gigabyte.

Permabit Technology Corp. has increased the performance and scale of its data center archiving system, allowing it to more quickly move more data off other vendors' tier 1 storage arrays.

Today's launch of the Permabit Enterprise Archive Data Center Series Model 4010 is an upgrade to the higher end of its two storage platforms. The new systems are a speeds-and-feeds upgrade. Permabit switched to new Intel Corp. Xeon quad-core processors that increase performance by 280% over their previous systems, and moved to 1 TB Seagate Technology LLC SATA drives to double the capacity of storage nodes to 4 TB.

The 4010 supports up to 48 nodes per grid for a maximum of 144 TB of raw capacity per grid. Permabit claims its systems can scale to 32 grids for 4.6 petabytes (PB) with expansion shelves.

Permabit hasn't changed the RAIN-EC grid architecture that presents each grid as one storage pool, and continues to offer deduplication, replication and WORM capabilities with the 4010.

The company's strategy is to create a value tier for customers who want to move rarely accessed data off expensive Fibre Channel drives. Permabit's systems are SATA only.

"There's a huge glut of primary storage," said Tom Cook, Permabit's CEO. "Companies are moving that information off primary storage. Primary storage is built for transactions and transactional information. A lot of companies understand they can save money by moving to an archive or value tier that provides self-management and resiliency, can scale widely and has deduplication built in."

Cook said assuming even a modest 3:1 dedupe ratio, Permabit can drive storage costs to $1 per gigabyte.

Eric Burgener, a senior analyst and consultant at Hopkinton, Mass.-based Taneja Group, said Permabit goes beyond pure archiving. Its systems mount like a network-attached storage (NAS) device, support CIFS and NFS, and are used for storage that still gets accessed occasionally but not enough to merit going on tier 1 arrays.

"People are starting to understand that 60% or more of their data on high-end enterprise arrays doesn't need to be there from a performance standpoint," he said. "In the past, Permabit's focus has been on archiving. Now it's secondary storage where you can move data that doesn't require higher performance access."

Burgener said current economic conditions have split vendors' marketing strategies. EMC Corp., IBM Corp. and large vendors advise customers to take a "flight to safety" approach by conservatively going with established companies. Permabit is among the smaller vendors taking a "flight to efficiency" strategy by trying to convince customers to cut costs through better management.

"They're looking for customers who say 'Cost is more important and we're willing to take some risk,'" Burgener said.

But Permabit has competition there. Vendors such as Caringo Inc., Copan Systems Inc., Exanet Inc. and Nexsan Technologies Inc. are also trying to get customers to use their storage to move data off primary storage so they can store it cheaper, manage it better and use less power. Dedupe backup specialist Data Domain Inc. has also been making a move into the archiving space.

That's where the software functionality will come in for Permabit and its competitors.

The Permabit Enterprise Archive Data Center Series Model 4010 is priced at $250,000 for 144 TB, and is generally available.

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