QStar launches tape access from anywhere with Global ArchiveSpace

Access to hundreds of tape drives in archives that scale to exabytes from anywhere in the world, with all data held in a single namespace.

That’s what’s on offer from QStar, which launched its Global ArchiveSpace last month, aiming at access to infrequently accessed data for artificial intelligence (AI), high-performance computing (HPC) workloads and hyperscaler cold storage.

QStar has been around since 1987, and focuses on archiving and tape products that include QStar Archive Manager, Tape as NAS (in SMB/NFS file format on tape), Tape as Cloud (S3 object storage on tape), and Cloud gateway (on-site and cloud storage access as if it were a cloud).

The company claims around 19,000 deployments globally with the focus on archiving, but also data migration. Customers with QStar Archive Manager can upgrade to Global ArchiveSpace.

Qstar’s Global ArchiveSpace provides a multi-node, single-site tape architecture that can scale-out to exabytes and allows for multi-tenant access. “It’s single site, but with a global namespace,” said CEO Ricardo Finotti at a recent IT Press Tour event in Rome. “It will be multi-site, but not yet.”

Hosts access Global ArchiveSpace via SMB/NFS or S3 via Windows or Linux commodity servers. All server nodes see all tape drives and media behind them.

From these gateways, QStar provides access to a single namespace made up of tape storage that runs to potentially exabytes in capacity. At the same time as data is ingested to Global ArchiveSpace, it can be replicated to another tape library, any of the three hyperscaler clouds or private S3 storage.

Finotti said QStar uses its own proprietary file system and not .tar. LTFS – once dubbed “tape NAS” for its ability to provide file system access to data on tape – is used as an access mechanism.

The CEO also said Global ArchiveSpace is in use as a target by Cohesity, Hammerspace, Rubrik and Hycu.

Tape storage has often read its own obituary, but it’s still a viable medium for data that does not require frequent or rapid access. That’s because access times run to at least a few minutes or potentially much longer.

However, tape is mostly inherently secure because it provides an air gap between its media and the wider network. It also ranks highly in terms of sustainability because tape – unlike spinning disk – does not need to be constantly powered up. Tapes need to be replaced every 10 years, while HDDs need to be changed at about double that rate.

In performance terms, an LTO-9 tape cartridge holds 45TB of data when compressed, with throughput of 400MBps native or 1,000MBps with 2.5:1 compression. Areal density is about 100 times greater for tape than HDD.

According to a study cited by the IEEE, during their lifespan, HDDs produce about 2.55kg of CO2 per terabyte every year, while tape media produces just 0.07kg of CO2 per terabyte per year.

In terms of total cost of ownership, tape costs eight times less than disk over a 10-year period for 10PB, according to a study cited by IDC.

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