Many organizations understand the significant performance benefit in flash storage, over traditional rotating disk. No moving parts also means greater reliability. As such disk storage is declining in the enterprise in favor of NVMe flash-based storage. However, flash lacks high capacity. Tape storage, on the other hand, is high capacity but read operations are slow due to its sequential nature. However, writing to modern tape technology is not slow as LTO7, 8 and now 9 drives all have the ability to stream write at over 300MB/sec.

What is FLAPE?

FLAPE (Flash and Tape) stores the “hottest” data, those files that are frequently accessed, on flash storage. All data is stored on tape allowing for huge capacities at a fraction of the cost of “All Flash”.

FLAPE Plus (Flash, NAS RAID and Tape) combines three technologies to improve speed while keeping to a more reasonable total cost.

QStar Archive Manager Multi-Write

QStar Technologies recommends using NVMe flash storage today for Archive Manager cache operations (see previous blog “Use of a cache and the cache booster option”). Caching technology allows 100% of the available flash storage to be consumed.  Traditionally, to achieve the same performance as NVMe flash, disk storage must use RAID techniques aggregating multiple drives. The issue with this approach is that the total capacity created is often a significant overkill for caching needs.

Archive Manager latest version software offers a new feature called “Global ArchiveSpace Migrator” or “Multi-Write”, which allows a single, high-performance cache to write content to multiple drives to improve back-end performance. In the past, a cache would connect to one archive destination (a single tape drive or cloud bucket) so the maximum write performance would often be limited by the archive technology (with LTO9 this would be 400MB/sec native). By combining two, three or more tape drives into a single storage pool, with Archive Manager, ultra-fast archives can be created with write performance well over 1GB/sec.

Multi-Write allows several options in how files are distributed across multiple media in multiple drives. The default being “first available” where whichever drive finishes writing its first file (often due to size) will be provided with the next file to write. Another option, “subdirectory consolidation”, writes all files in a subdirectory to the same media. The thought being that potentially only a single media is needed to read all content from a single subdirectory, improving the most common type of multiple file reads.

Tape storage offers very high levels of data protection, including sequential writing, which prevents the actual data deletion, retention management and the ability to “air-gap” data for ransomware protection.

This is a solution recommended for larger tape libraries with more tape drives required. If three tape drives are used for writing, it is best practice to also have three for read operations as well, or to have a near match in random access storage at the cache level.  Using the before mentioned “Cache Booster” creates FLAPE Plus solutions, allowing small NVMe flash capacities to be used for writing and a larger Disk RAID set used for read operations, meaning that tape would primarily be used for Disaster Recovery purposes.

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