June 19, 2020

Fujifilm introduces Object Archive

Fujifilm Recording Media, the leader in tape storage manufacturing, recently launched Object Archive, its object storage solution via its Data Management Solutions group. The team refreshed the press team during the recent IT Press Tour.

This entity develops its own product line such LTO tape and this object storage product and distributes StrongLink from StrongBox Data Solutions and Archive Manager and Network Migrator from QStar Technologies. By the way QStar develops also its own object storage solution named Kaleidos that can be in front of a tape library.

The idea reminds me what the industry developed with the VTL (Virtual Tape Library) even if it was an ephemeral and transient technology. How to put a front-end to the tape library that facilitates data injection, improves quality of service and flexibility. There is no surprise that Fujifilm jumps into that opportunity and we're even surprised they didn't do that move before.

The goal of the solution is to address the deep archive opportunity and swallow even more data to tape as hyperscalers do finally. Object Archive is the name of the product in North America and Japan and Software-Defined Tape elsewhere. It could create confusion but both are pretty good name.

Due to the appearance of HDD down in the data lifecycle with the S3 storage wave, tape vendors missed the business opportunity and let object storage players grow into a market they originally controlled. But the reality is that the TCO of tape is almost unbeatable for deep archive and really depends of the use case. In our current cloud environment, the Air Gap model is fundamental to provide real barrier against attack, ransomware or just failure or bug propagation.

We learned that Fujifilm is the result of a close relationship with Cloudian, one of the leader in Object Storage according to the Coldago Research Map 2019 for Object Storage.

The product is a pure software model and operates as a gateway to tape libraries. As S3 is based on HTTP protocol it means that it is now possible to access the archiving repository from a remote site. A cascading workflow can be built with on-prem S3 to S3 to the tape libraries.

Open Archive introduces a new open source tape format named OTFormat, for Open Tape Format, that is finally the unification of metadata and data on the same support and it works from LTO 7. The importance aspect of this is to be able to read the tape in the future without the S3 gateway. This is why the format is open source and promoted as a standard. In term of tape libraries, everything is supported like Spectra, IBM, Quantum, Oracle, and HPE.

The solution is sold as a combination of tape plus software and offers the double of capacity within the same package. In a few days, pricing will be unveiled publicly. Fujifilm targets vertical sectors like Research, Genomics, Life Sciences, Oil and Gas, Media and Entertainment and HPC, all significant generators of huge volume of data with essentially 2 use cases: active and deep archive for volume above 1PB. In EMEA, a 2 tier distribution model is used with authorized partners and in USA a direct link with VARs.

The S3 gateway here is just a vehicle to ingest data into the library, clever idea, Object Archive is a very compelling concept coupling finally 2 standards used in capacity storage, S3 and tape, and Fujifilm is very well positioned to take a leader position.

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