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StrongBox Data's StrongLink adds multisite storage management

StrongLink version 3.2 adds new features to StrongBox Data's flagship software, including multisite storage management, a command-line interface and more.

The latest version of StrongBox Data's flagship StrongLink software aims to help storage administrators more easily manage far-flung sets of data.

StrongLink 3.2, which is generally available this month, offers new features to help organizations catalog, back up and utilize their information more effectively.

StrongLink, first released in 2017, is data management software that provides data visibility across storage silos. It allows administrators, either through automation or manual entry, to organize and access unstructured object and file data across sites and platforms through metadata tags and user-defined policies.

The StrongLink software is vendor hardware-agnostic and storage medium-agnostic, providing organization and availability across public cloud tiers and vendors, private clouds and on-premises hardware, including Linear Tape File Systems as of last year.

Customers who began dealing with a "data trickle" by moving an occasional 500 TB of data to other tiers of storage are now dealing with a "data flood" involving potentially petabytes worth of transfers daily, said StrongBox Data CEO Floyd Christofferson.

"What StrongLink is doing is providing access to a multiprotocol global namespace by which users are given persistent access to their data," he said.

This latest release now supports multisite policy-based disaster recovery and replication features called StrongLink Galaxy. It allows any changes pushed to data at one given site to replicate across disaster recovery sites, public cloud backups and any type of on-premises storage medium.

Prior StrongLink versions offered similar support for high-availability multi-node sites, called Constellations. The new feature expands upon the concept by offering connectivity and metadata organization to every site within an organization's storage landscape.

"Our design goal here is to give [our customers] the choices for whatever they need for their workflows," Christofferson said. "We've taken the same things that we've proven in a single site and extended that out remotely. [We've] built in the safeguards, the guardrails and other things our customers need. If in a single data center we're giving this kind of global control, with the Galaxy what we're doing is extending that out, so they've got multisite global control."

Such features will likely prove useful to StrongBox's more than 40 current clients, which include NASA, the U.S. Library of Congress, Sony Pictures and ETH Zurich.

StrongLink's new features helped the Library of Congress organize and unify what was previously 50 separate data silos, according to Christofferson.

Tied into the needs of those big data customers is the general availability of the StrongLink Command Line Interface (CLI) in StrongLink 3.2.

This CLI gives data administrators and power users, such as scientists and researchers, more granular control over metadata generation, as well as ways to better refine data queries, Christofferson said. StrongLink continues to offer a web-based control panel, as well as standard file shares to view and catalog data.

Other improvements in 3.2 will include updates to the StrongLink API and the software's reporting and querying services.

StrongLink is sold as a software-only product through channel partners. The software can be licensed for commodity hardware itself, through virtual machines or cloud implementations. Pricing is based on the number of CPU cores needed for desired performance rather than the volume of data moved, similar to a network switch, Christofferson said.

Christophe Bertrand, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said the new multisite support and CLI features for StrongLink 3.2 are signs of a maturing software platform.

All in all, it feels like a solution that has been maturing nicely to really meet demands.
Christophe BertrandSenior analyst, ESG

"There's a very strong benefit of having that unified data management context across the whole environment of storage," Bertrand said. "The fundamental capability of breaking down silos and moving across tiers is a great capability. … All in all, it feels like a solution that has been maturing nicely to really meet demands."

In addition, Bertrand praised the new CLI as a "fundamental" addition for StrongLink users in academic or research environments.

"Having a strong CLI and a strong API is absolutely critical," he said. "The general [user] is going to be more of a GUI person. The solutions-builders are going to have more interest in the API."

Marc Staimer, president of Dragon Slayer Consulting, said the refinements to StrongLink's multisite uses and vendor-agnostic software should mark a chance for the company to step into the storage management limelight in the years to come.

"Typically, you hear from startups all the hype about their products before they have many or even any customers," he said. "StrongBox Data Solutions is only now starting to hype StrongLink, after they have quite a few real production customers."

He added that StrongLink competes with vendors such as Quantum Storage Systems, IBM, Dell EMC and Komprise. Unlike many other storage software vendors, the performance-based pricing makes StrongLink more appealing to potential customers, Staimer said.

Enterprise Strategy Group is a division of TechTarget.

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