Monday, January 08, 2018

Backup Vs. Disaster Recovery - Yes, There's a Big Difference.

You backup your data. You're prepared to handle the next big disaster, right? Wrong. DR requires much more than backup.

Difference between backup and DR

Let me begin this discussion with a personal revelation. I don't have a DR plan for my personal data. I do back virtually all of it up, however, using cloud services. If the unexpected happens - I lose my laptop, my HDD suddenly gives up the ghost or my computer suffers a fatal coffee spill - I can use my backups to recover from the event. But recovering will take me a long time and a fair amount of effort. I'll have to remember the password to my cloud backup service. I'll have to download all my files and put them on my new computer, probably losing some of the original directory structure in the process. I'll probably also have to reconfigure some of my applications manually because some of them depend on configuration files that are not part of my backup routine. This is all fine because I'm just an individual. 

If it takes me a few days to recover from a disaster, no one's going to go insane or get sued. If I were a business, however, my current backup strategy would fall far short of providing the complete DR solution that I'd need to ensure I could recover from an unexpected event quickly enough to prevent serious damage to the business or its customers. I might also be responsible for keeping pace with compliance regulations that require me to be able to backup and restore sensitive data within a specific time frame. (Related: Planned or Unplanned, All Downtime is Bad)

Building a Complete DR Plan I mention my personal backup strategy to illustrate why backing up data is only the first step in a complete DR plan. To prepare fully for a disaster, you should not only backup data somewhere, but also do the following:

  • Ensure that all relevant data are backed up.
    You may not need to backup every bit of information on your file systems. Temporary files, for example, probably don't need to be backed up. On the other hand, it can be easy to overlook certain types of files that you would want to backup (such as configuration files in the /etc. directory on a Linux OS - which I'd backup from my personal system if I were more responsible).
  • Secure your backups.
    Backed-up data is no good if it is damaged or data quality errors are introduced into it. In addition, backups can be a fertile source of information for attackers in search of sensitive data. For both reasons, it's crucial to ensure that your backups are secured against intrusions.
  • Determine how frequently backups should be performed.
    Performing continuous real-time backups of all your data is the ideal, but it is usually not feasible. Instead, most organizations determine how frequently they should backup data by determining how much of a lag in data they can tolerate without a critical disruption to business operations.
    If you could afford to lose a day's worth of customer records (or recover those records manually in a reasonable period of time), then you can perform daily backups. If you can tolerate only an hour's worth of lost data, then do a backup every hour.
  • Include your personnel in the plan.
    Determine who will perform backups and who will be on call to restore data in the event of an emergency.
  • Have a process in place for recovering data.
    Backing data up is one thing and restoring is another. You should have a recovery plan in place for different scenarios: One in which your infrastructure remains intact but your data is lost (in which case you can recover from backups to your original infrastructure), and another for a situation where you need to stand up totally new infrastructure, then recover data to it. In both cases, your data recovery plan should include as much automation as possible so that you can get things backup and running quickly. However, you should also build in safeguards to ensure that important data is not overlooked during backups, or files corrupted.
  • Ensure the quality of backups and recovered files.
    The data you backup and recover is only useful if it is free of errors and inconsistencies.
Again, if you're an individual, you can get away with just backing up your data. But any business hoping to survive a major unexpected event that impacts its software or data needs a complete DR plan in place. Backups are only one part of that plan.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Qualstar Into Technology Development Agreement With Sony Imaging Products and Solutions

Qualstar Corporation entered into a technology development agreement with Sony Imaging Products and Solutions Inc.

Pursuant to the agreement, the company will design and develop the specifications and architecture for an enterprise optical disc archive library. The agreement, which can be terminated by Sony Corporation at any time, provides that the firm will receive installment payments for its services, which are expected to be completed by March 31, 2018.

Following completion of the services, the parties may enter additional agreements relating to the production of the enterprise optical disc archive library.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Toshiba Following Western Digital/HGST With 14TB 3.5-Inch HDD

Toshiba Electronic announced the MG07ACA Series, the world's first enterprise 14TB Conventional Magnetic Recording HDD.

Using a 9-disk, helium-sealed design, the drive provides the power-efficient capacity and storage density needed by cloud-scale and enterprise storage solution providers to achieve their TCO objectives.

They have raised the bar with the new MG07ACA Series 9-disk helium-sealed design, by utilizing an innovative design, they continue to improve the benefits that high-capacity disk storage can deliver to their broad global customer base.

The MG07ACA Series features both 14TB 9-disk and 12TB 8-disk models. The helium-sealed 3.5-inch mechanical design realizes better storage density and a lower HDD operating power profile than the previous MG06ACA Series for optimal TCO in cloud-scale infrastructures.

The series also utilizes Toshiba Group's laser welding technology to ensure the helium remains securely sealed inside the drive enclosure.

The drives support a 6Gb SATA interface and 7,200rpm access performance. The 9-disk 14TB models achieve a 40% increase in maximum capacity over previous MG06ACA 10TB models.
Additionally, the 14TB models improve power efficiency by over 50% (W/GB).

Toshiba's first helium-sealed near line drive intercepts the market at a class-leading 14TB capacity with CMR. Its early time-to-market for this capacity positions the company well to meet the storage needs of large hyperscale and cloud companies. Additionally, the company's choice of a 9-disk platform paves the way to achieving higher capacities in future product generations.

While enterprise server and storage customers realize that shingled magnetic recording (SMR) technology can improve HDD capacity, the adoption of SMR HDD products into server and storage systems is a transition that will take several years. 

Sample deliveries of MG07ACA Series drives to customers sequentially begin now.

Monday, December 04, 2017

People Too Often Fail to Properly Erase Personal Data in Used HDDs/SSDs – Kroll Ontrack

Putting personal information at risk

Kroll Ontrack, LLC carried out a security study that indicated we are putting our personal information at risk far too easily.
The data recovery company analyzed used drives to see if any traces of data remained after the previous owners sold them. Among the drives the company examined, traces of data were found on nearly half. Many of these innocent oversights allowed the new owners critical access into the previous owners' identity.
Despite user efforts to erase data, it can often be recovered if not done properly. This makes selling personal digital devices a matter of identity protection. The study involved an international scope, with a diverse array of countries taking part: the US, Germany, France, Italy, the AsiaPac region, Poland and the UK.
For the campaign, Kroll Ontrack purchased 64 drives from various sources over eBay (private sellers/consumers) and analyzed whether the used drives had been successfully wiped clean or still contained any traces of data. The study found that traces of data remained on 30 drives (47%), while the remaining 34 drives had been successfully cleaned (53%).

However, the likelihood of finding access to personal information was not the study's most concerning finding, but rather how sensitive that information often was. For the careless or uninformed user, selling personal data devices is little more than selling your identity.
The case of one drive epitomized the danger of identifying data traces. The drive had belonged to a company that used a service provider to erase and resell old drives. Despite that, the drive still contained a wealth of highly sensitive information, including user names, home addresses, phone numbers and credit card details. It contained an employee list of around 100 names that included information about work experience, job titles, phone numbers, language abilities, vacation dates and a 1MB offline address book.

The personal realm was not the only one affected, as work-related information also finds its way very often onto private devices. As such, business data extracted from the drives was also not in short supply. Six drives were found to contain critical business data such as CAD files, PDFs, jpegs, keys and passwords. Kroll Ontrack even found full online store set ups, configuration files and POS training videos in their scour of these six drives. A further five contained other work-related data: invoices and purchase orders, much of it including sensitive personal information

The best method to delete data is low-level formatting, which involves pattern filling drives at the lowest level. This method effectively resets drives back to the factory settings. Multiple overwrites provide additional security, especially when data erasure needs to meet specific legal overwrite standards. Professional products distinguish themselves by the following features: independent certifications, using internationally standard algorithms, detailed reporting and traceability of executed deletions.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Atto XstreamCORE Support for Remote and Shared Access Over Ethernet or FC - To SAS LTO-8 drives

Atto announces support for XstreamCORE storage controllers to add remote FC or Ethernet connectivity to SATA optical disc and SAS LTO tape devices including the newly available LTO-8 tape format. 

XstreamCORE is designed to provide the benefits of remote access to DAS technologies as well as the connection of multiple devices to be shared by multiple clients.

The digital tape market is experiencing new growth and is in a position to more rapidly deliver declining cost for storage over the next decade for archive and cold storage. This is especially true in markets that include HPC, digital video surveillance, media and entertainment, research and education, government agencies, broadcast and cloud service providers, Cloud providers have especially embraced tape as a cost-effective way to handle the growing amount of data being generated and stored in the cloud. Tape is the option that will cost less and last longer over time giving better margins over spinning disk technology. XstreamCORE enables these service providers a more efficient way to add tape and grow capacity in their portfolio of storage options."

XstreamCORE is a rack-scale flash and capacity storage controller that bridges 12Gb and 6Gb SAS storage devices and SATA devices to share and remotely connect them to FC or Ethernet networks. XstreamCORE includes company's developed features including xCORE data acceleration to rapidly move data, the eCORE control engine to add services and management features to storage while not affecting performance, and SpeedWrite, a tape and optical performance feature that boosts write performance by effectively managing commands between attached clients and tape and optical devices.

There are several government regulations such as those promoted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) with best practices that require organizations to backup their server data as well as keep it separate from original copies of that data for legal and financial reasons, Atto, "XstreamCORE enables organizations to attach multiple SAS tape or SATA optical devices and move this hardware out of the data center, or out of the building, to secure facilities to comply with these regulations.

By directly being able to connect up to 16 SAS tape drives with the possibility of additional drives being connected through SAS expanders, XstreamCORE enables a lower cost of ownership versus native Ethernet or FC tape devices. Fewer switch ports are required when using XstreamCORE and power, cooling, cabling and weight requirements can be better managed as the firm's controller allows separation of racks of client servers, storage and archive devices. XstreamCORE FC 7500 currently supports connectivity for SAS tape devices and SATA optical devices to FC connected servers or fabrics.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Overland-Tandberg NEO Series Tape Automation and Drive With LTO-8

Overland-Tandberg, announced the availability of next-generation LTO-8 in its NEO Series product line of tape automation and standalone tape drive solutions designed to provide cost-effective backup and archive applications for enterprises of any size.

Support for LTO-8 allows existing customers to double their capacity when compared to LTO-7. In addition, the LTO-8 drives will be backward compatible with LTO-7 tape media, allowing LTO-8 drive users to R/W any LTO-7 media.

NEO Series LTO-8 product highlights:
  • LTO-8 offers a compressed storage capacity of 30TB (12TB native) using a 2.5:1 ratio, and a compressed transfer rate of 750MB/s (360MB/s native)
  • LTO-8 tape, like LTO-7, supports LTFS, WORM (Write Once Read Many) and AES 256-bit hardware encryption
  • NEO-XL Series: With capacities ranging from 960TB to 16.8PB, the NEO-XL Series addresses the need for midrange and enterprise businesses to do more with less by combining automated backup, DR and archive with flexibility, density, performance and affordability to ensure that data is protected faster, smarter, easier and more cost effectively.
  • NEO-S Series: Designed for IT offices with limited space, resources and budgets, this family delivers the ultimate in simple, affordable, reliable backup, archive and DR and supports up to 360TB of data into a single unit of rack height.
  • NEO LTO Ultrium tape drives: With performance and capacity, and available in both internal and external configurations, these tape drives provide up to 30TB per cartridge and are for backing up and archiving data on single workstations or small networks.

IBM Storage Tape Support for LTO-8 Type M Media

Alongside the launch of LTO Ultrium Generation 8 tape drives, IBM plans to introduce multiple options for initializing M8 media to enable new LTO-7 cartridge capacity to be increased by up to 50% on LTO-8 drives. Customers who purchase new LTO-7 cartridges initialized as M8 media will be able to store up to 22.5TB of data, assuming a 2.5 to 1 compression achieved with larger compression history buffer available beginning with LTO-6 drives.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Meet the Next Generation of Tape Technology

The creation of data has seen exponential growth for the past decade forcing IT managers in a number of fields including, media and entertainment, healthcare, video surveillance, research and more to look for cost-effective short- and long-term data storage solutions. With these concerns in mind, this month the LTO Program announced the specifications of the latest LTO Ultrium format, generation 8, which is now available for licensing by media manufacturers.  With unprecedented storage capacity and an impressive feature set, the LTO generation 8 technology will provide customers with a cost-effective storage solution that is both easy-to-use and addresses numerous storage needs.

The new LTO generation 8 specifications will double the tape cartridge capacity from the previous LTO generation 7, with customers now being able to store up to 30TB* of compressed data per cartridge.
LTO generation 8 will continue to support multi-layer security capabilities, including hardware-based encryption and WORM (Write-Once, Read Many) functionality. The partitioning functionality that allows users to present an easy-to-use tape-based file system with LTFS which will be also included in this generation.