By Josef Doods
The data management platform Archiware P5 offers a software for backup, P5 Backup as well as for Archive, P5 Archive. Arching data in a company is a task that guarantees the long-term preservation of data. Configuring a suitable backup or archive system requires consideration of several points. Especially security aspects like the physical air gap between tape and network are arguments in favour of a tape based Backup and Archive. This is why this article deals exclusively with an LTO-based backup or archive with P5. It is a basic guideline for the selection of the necessary server hardware.
Archiware P5 also supports other storage media like disk, Cloud and SSD/NVME that are discussed in other articles (see links at the bottom).
Concerning the difference between Backup and Archive you can learn more here.
1. Single Drive or Tape Library?
Two things are relevant to answering this question. On the one hand, the volume of data to be backed up must be determined. So: How big is the total amount of data that is backed up or archived daily?
On the other hand, this leads to the follow-up question of whether it is practical to secure this amount of data with an LTO single drive, or whether an LTO tape library with an integrated tape changer makes more sense. In general, an LTO tape library is always required if at the time when a new tape is necessary no person is available to change the tape. When planning a long-term archive looking years ahead and anticipating data growth already at the beginning is wise and speaks in favour of a tape library. Some tape libraries are available with their capacity only partially licensed to be expanded later.
The frequency of users accessing the archive is also relevant, since this requires a tape to be inserted in the single LTO drive what is not necessary with a tape library.
To increase data security of an Archive or Backup two drives (either single drives or within a library) can be used to create two identical tape sets by cloning. One set can be stored offsite for maximum security and protection against local damage or incidents.
Also if there are concurrent users that need to secure and restore simultaneously, a library with multiple drives is necessary. The ore user for the system exist the higher is the likelihood for that requirement and the more helpful a library with multiple drives becomes.
Learn how a tape drive works and what LTO Tape offers in this article:
2. Interface – SAS, Fibre Channel or Thunderbolt?
Three interfaces are available for LTO single drives and libraries: SAS (Serial Attached SCSI), Fibre Channel and Thunderbolt. The SAS interface is the cheapest but limits the distance between the drive and the computer to 1-2 meters.
Devices with Fibre Channel are more costly but can connect over distances of up to kilometers. Thunderbolt is mostly used on the Mac to connect peripherals like displays and disks. In most environments SAS is fully sufficient. Bridges from SAS to Thunderbolt are available to connect these drives to Mac or PC with Thunderbolt. Multiple vendors offer LTO drives with Thunderbolt interfaces. There are also products with two drives in one enclosure to write two identical/cloned the tapes.
3. Which operating system?
We will not attempt to answer the question of the right operating system at this point. Apart from personal preferences and specifications in companies, which help to determine a suitable choice, each operating system offers advantages and disadvantages. Since Archiware P5 supports all relevant operating systems, the decision can be made according to the company’s specifications or hardware and software requirements. From Archiware’s point of view, which is admittedly rather technical, Linux is recommended. Linux is easy on resources and can be adapted very well to changing requirements. Another advantage is the fact that it is free of charge. In addition, with regard to P5, the requirements for the administration of the operating system are very low. Apart from the installation of P5, virtually no further adjustments have to be made in the operating system. Archiware P5 offers easy migration of the installation and indexes between OS platforms when the need for a change arises.
4. Hardware – Are there any special system requirements?
In principle, P5 has very low server hardware requirements. The hardware requirements grow with the tasks. The greater the necessary data throughput, i.e., the amount of data that must be backed up or restored in a given time, the more powerful the hardware must be.
For example, if 5 TB of data must be backed up in 8 hours during the night, you need a system that writes about 200 MB/sec and also reads 200 MB/sec. A local RAID attached to the same server should be able to do that. However, if the data is distributed across multiple servers that are only accessible via the network, you need a minimum of a 2.5 Gbit network to transfer the data to the backup server at a reasonable speed. From a P5 perspective, a fast SSD disk is a great advantage, as indexing is much faster than with a traditional disk.
A dedicated backup/archive server on the network should have a minimum of 4 cores, 16 GB RAM and an SSD disk by today’s standards. If multiple jobs need to be processes by P5 each job requires one core. In addition, of course, the appropriate adapter(s) for connecting the LTO drive(s) or LTO Tape Library are required.
Assembling and configuring a Backup and Archive system with LTO tape is relatively easy and offer massive benefits that even grow over time:
- LTO offers Backup AND Archive functionality with P5 Backup and P5 Archive
- LTO offers maximum security against cyberthreats of all kind with its physical air gap and offline status of the tapes
- LTO tape is fast with up to 400MB/s throughput for read/write
- LTO is the most affordable professional storage medium (starting below 10USD/EURO per TB)
- Archiving (=migrating) (c)old data to LTO safes investment in expansion of the production storage and reduces the file count on it
- LTO offers a vendor independent exchange format with LTFS
- LTO offers 30 years of shelf life
- LTO tape is easy to store offsite (and offline)
The role of metadata in the archive is explained here: