IBM developing S3 interface tape library

IBM is adding a server and software to its Diamondback tape library to build an on-premises S3 object storage archive.

The DiamondBack (TS6000), introduced in October last year, is a single-frame tape library with up to 14 TS1170 tape drives and 1,458 tape LTO-9 cartridges, storing 27.8PB of raw data, and 69.6PB with 2.5:1 compression. It transfers data at up to 400MBps with 12 drives active and has a maximum 17.2TB/hour transfer rate.

IBM Diamondback S3

DiamondBack S3 has an added x86 server, as the image shows, which provides the S3 interface and S3 object-to-tape cartridge/track mapping. Client systems will send Get (read) and Put (write) requests to DiamondBack S3 and it will read S3 objects from, or write the objects to, a tape cartridge mounted in one of the drives.

IBM’s Advanced Technology Group Tape Team is running an early access program for this Diamondback S3 tape library. Julien Demeulenaere, sales leader EMEA – Tape & High-End Storage, says Diamondback S3 will be a low-cost repository target for a secure copy of current or archive data. It will enable any user familiar with S3 to move their data to Diamondback S3. A storage architect can sign up for a 14-day shared trial on a Diamondback S3 managed by IBM, so they can verify the behavior of S3 for tape.

The S3-object-on-tape idea is not new, as seen with Germany’s PoINT Software and Systems and its Point Archival Gateway product. This provides unified object storage with software-defined S3 object storage for disk and tape, presenting their capacity in a single namespace. It is a combined disk plus tape archive product with disk random access speed and tape capacity.

Archiving systems supplier XenData has launched an appliance which makes a local tape copy of a public cloud archive to save on geo-replication and egress fees.

Quantum has an object-storage-on-tape tier added to its ActiveScale object storage system, providing an on-premises Amazon S3 Glacier-like managed service offering. SpectraLogic’s BlackPearl system can also provide an S3 interface to a backend tape library.

DiamondBack S3 does for objects and tape what the LTFS (Linear Tape File System) does for files and tape, with its file:folder interface to tape cartridges and libraries. Storing objects on tape should be lower cost than storing them on disk, once a sufficient amount has been put on the tapes – but at the cost of longer object read and write times compared to disk. IBM suggests it costs four times less than AWS Glacier with, of course, no data egress fees.

Demeulenaere told us: “There is no miracle, we can’t store bucket on tape natively. It’s just a software abstraction layer on the server which will present the data as S3 object to the user. So, from a user point of view, they just see a list of bucket and can only operate it with S3 standard command (get/put). But it is still files that are written by the tape drive. The server will be accessed exclusively through Ethernet; dual 100GB port for the S3 command, one GB Ethernet port for admin.

“The server is exclusively for object storage. It can’t be a file repository target. For that, you will need to buy the library alone (which is possible) and operate it as everybody is doing (FC, backup server).”