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HGST rolls out PB-scale active archive with object storage, Helium drives

HGST joins the active archive market with systems that scale up to 4.7 petabytes of storage and have a one-watt per terabyte power consumption.

Western Digital's HGST introduced an active archive system today that uses the vendor's helium-filled hard disk drives and object storage from its recent Amplidata acquisition.

The new HGST Active Archive scale-out system scales to 4.7 PB of raw data. It contains up to 98 drives in a 4U rack system and can scale up to six enclosures with 588 HelioSeal hard drives. It's targeted for public, private and hybrid clouds, as well as NAS environments.

The archiving device scales up to 3.7 PB of useable storage and supports Amazon S3 APIs. It also supports NFS and SMB applications via HGST partner Avere Systems for integration with NAS. Using the archive with an Avere appliance provides a NAS-to-object storage gateway to support legacy applications that are not coded for object storage. HGST claims the system only uses one watt per terabyte.

"We are constantly told by cloud data center operators that floor space is valuable for them," said Dave Tang, senior vice president and general manager of HGST's elastic storage platform group. "The system is optimized for the cloud and it is architected for the lowest power consumption per terabyte."

HGST claims this integrated system delivers a three to five times increase in density and power efficiency compared to other scale-out solutions through the use of HGST's 8 TB HelioSeal hard drives.

Western Digital's HGST division acquired object storage vendor Amplidata in March for an undisclosed sum. The company had announced plans for an active archive platform last year and invested $10 million in Amplidata's 2015 funding round. The new archiving system uses Amplidata's Himalaya storage software, which the vendor claims can handle zettabytes of data and trillions of stored objects under a single global namespace.

The new active archiving system is available now at a list price of $849,000.

"There are a lot of object storage-oriented products in the market that are software only," said Jim Miller, senior analyst at Enterprise Management Associates. "They support commodity hardware and require integration through professional services. This product is fully integrated. It makes it easier for someone who has to do their own deployments. Plus it's an overall scale-out package in a single chassis, up to 4.7 petabytes. That is a lot of capacity.

"The other extraordinary thing is the power consumption. At one watt per terabyte, that's 1,000 watts," Miller said. "That's really not very much power."

HGST's Tang said HGST sees opportunities for Amplidata's technology in data management, data access and data retention. HGST plans to forge OEM deals as well as sell the technology through their direct sales force.

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Is object storage the best way to build a petabyte-sized archive?
Object certainly seems like an excellent alternative for large archives given its easy scalability and support for more detailed metadata. Right now, the main issue is that not all archiving apps support RESTful (e.g., Amazon's S3) interfaces into object storage. That should change pretty quickly, but what will be even more interesting is to see how those archiving apps take advantage of object's metadata capabilities to build more  intelligence into the data that's under management. It could help automate activities such as deletion after a certain time period, moving the data to the cloud or another platform and determining who has access and/or copy rights.
Hi Sonia - at the moment i see object storage as the most cheapest way to build large archives. There are already cloud storage vendors offering ArchiveasaService as well. Keep in mind that it's not only about a storage array but building the higher layers. A large archive requires support of many applications including certification according to different laws. It depends on your applications - if they support object storage you should go for it. And Cloud Storage Gateways could provide a solution to combine different worlds.