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Film maker shuns cloud storage for Spectra Logic tape

Smoke & Mirrors replaces Quantum tape library with 7PB of Spectra Logic tape and decides the cloud lacks security and would be too costly for the 16TB it archives every day

Movie production house Smoke & Mirrors has deployed more than 7PB of Spectra Logic tape storage for backup and archiving. It shunned public cloud archiving services for security and cost reasons.

The company is based in London’s Soho, with offices worldwide, and provides visual effects for advertising, film and music videos.

An average project is in the 5TB region, with about 12TB of data added per day.

Primary storage comprises around 1.5PB of Isilon scale-out NAS. Data had been shifted from Isilon to a Quantum tape library, but this was nearing end of life, and adding extra disk capacity elsewhere was cost-prohibitive.

The company decided to look at tape libraries and cloud storage. It had used a Quantum tape library in the past, but had experienced reliability issues with it.

Also, Spectra Logic tape libraries offered better storage density, said David Lennox, lead systems engineer at Smoke & Mirrors.

“We liked the way Spectra Logic packed tapes into something like drawers in a filing cabinet, unlike the Quantum, which were like books on a bookshelf,” he said.

Smoke & Mirrors deployed a Spectra T950 tape library with eight LTO-6 drives, providing more than 7PB of capacity.

The move allowed the company to double the number of tape slots from 893 to 1,460 in two racks, compared with the previous four.

“The increased density helps hugely by saving space, which is important because we’re in Soho, and by cutting power and air-conditioning costs,” said Lennox.

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As data is used it is backed up and archived to the Spectra Logic tape library using IBM Spectrum Protect (formerly Tivoli Storage Manager) backup software.

Smoke & Mirrors chose not to use public cloud storage to archive its data for reasons of security and cost, said Lennox.

“It was mainly security,” he said. “Our customers don’t want us to use the cloud. The feeling is it can be potentially accessed by anyone and there’s not as much control as there is with tape in a server room. Also, there’s so much data – we’re archiving 16TB a night – that the cost of using cloud storage would be astronomical.”

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