Red Tape, Part II

StorageTek

As I wrote last week, we recently announced the StorageTek T10000C Tape Drive, and along with it we released a number of related papers. I've been associated with publishing best practices papers for over a decade and it seems like there is no topic with less glamor for the writer – yet more importance for the reader – than the combined topics of backup/archive and restore/retrieve. The challenge has grown exponentially with the growth of disk storage. I remember the first time we sold a terabyte of storage: it was a room full of (big, heat-generating/power-consuming) 250 MB drives, costing millions of dollars. Now, just my home configuration consists of roughly 6 terabytes of disk.

How do you back up all of that storage? Tape: really fast tape. And, lots of it. This creates a whole variety of very interesting challenges today, elevating the topic to – at the very least – glamorous, but I think it qualifies as being downright hot! Fascinating areas include optimizing retrieving information from a vast achive of tape units, making sure that when you have backed up onto tape you can be sure it was done so without errors, and then there is the whole challenge of providing security. We have a paper for that!

Let's start off with the challenge of finding information on a serial, as opposed to random access, device. It can be done with brute force, and there are expensive solutions to assist, but the T10000C has a built in accelerator that relieves your system from the overhead. Learn how to use it by reading the concise Using Oracle's StorageTek Search Accelerator, by Oracle engineer Dwayne Edling.

Consider: you have invested big bucks to archive your priceless information onto potentially thousands of tapes. Of course, the latest tape drives all verify using ECC and CRC. However, these do not protect data that is being moved outside the storage device, resulting in a chance for data corruption as it is migrated across the storage landscape. The T10000C addresses this one step further by validating CRC check-sums generated at the host using Oracle's StorageTek Data Integrity Validation Solution (DIV). The brief article StorageTek Data Integrity Validation for the StorageTek T10000C Tape Drive, by the prolific Dwayne Edling, explains this problem in detail and presents some of the details of DIV.

Finally,we don't think twice about encrypting sensitive data on disks – what about on tape? One important aspect of enterprise security is the physical aspect: if someone stole the compact tape media, they could uncover all of your darkest secrets. The Oracle Key Manager (OKM) working with the Sun Crypto Accelerator 6000 provides a clean and highly efficient solution. You can read about this powerful combination in Oracle Key Manager Version 2.x Security and Authentication White Paper.

I have to be honest: I had never thought of Tape as a hot topic before. My bad!

- Kemer

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