Prostor Systems Brings Inexpensive, Removable Archival Storage to the Data Center

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

Prostor Systems shifts the paradigm dealing with archiving data with the Inifinivault series of removable archival storage devices, which meets regulatory and e-discovery needs.

As first glance, someone may assume that Prostor Systems’ Infinivault Model 3 is just another run-of-the-mill network-attached storage unit. After all, the Infinivault series does attach to a network and it does offer disk storage and it could even be used as an NAS device, but that would mean ignoring the unit’s advanced features.

The Infinivault product line is designed for more than just writing and reading data from shared storage—the units are designed to preserve data, permanently if need be. What’s more, the Infinivault series makes that storage removable and portable, creating the ability to have offsite archival information and giving archival storage infinite capacity.

Prostor brings that capability to the Infinivault by incorporating WORM (write once, read many times) technology with removable magnetic hard drives, a task that was far from easy. WORM technology is usually used with optical media, where a laser burns the data onto an optical disk, which definitively makes that optical media "write once." That in theory protects data from electronic tampering because any change to the burned data renders it corrupt.

To fit into the archiving realm, Prostor had to support WORM capabilities, since WORM technology is an important mainstay for data that must be preserved for compliance or e-discovery reasons. Traditional Optical Worm solutions have a few problems. First off, optical drives tend to be very slow, making them almost impossible to use for real-time tasks. Secondly, the cost per gigabyte of optical media is far more expensive than traditional hard drives. And finally, optical media comes and goes with market whims. Just think about HD-DVD and the scores of propriety optical disk formats that have come and gone in the market in recent years.

Prostor took a hard look at the failings of optical media and came up with the Infinivault product line, which ranges from the Model 3 (three removable drives) to the Model 100 (as many as 100 removable drives). We took a look at the entry-level Infinivault Model 3, which offers all of the features of its larger brethren (Model 30 and Model 100), except it is limited to just three removable drives and offers 1.5TB to 3TB online capacity.

The Model 3 looks like a typical tower case server, but with three drive slots located in the unit’s 5.25-inch drive bays. Installing the hardware is straightforward; it pretty much amounts to inserting three removable drives, connecting an Ethernet cable and providing power to the system.

Configuring the software is a little more involved: Installers will need to have on hand all the IP information to integrate the unit into the network and will also need to create Active Directory entries for Group Policy Objects, Organizational Units and other elements for integration into Active Directory. None of that should pose a problem for a network technician, and Prostor does offer excellent setup guidance.

Installers will need to connect a notebook (or desktop) computer directly to the Infinivault before connecting the unit to the host network, which is necessary for setting up the unit’s IP addresses and other settings. The company provides all of the information for configuring the notebook computer as well as for configuring the Infinivault system. Configuration takes place via a browser, and the browser-based management console steps users through the process.

After the unit is integrated into the network, most of the final configuration chores can be accomplished from any machine with access to the Infinivault’s IP address. Final setup chores are handled by whatever application the administrator chooses to use for backup and storage management. Prostor lists dozens of compatible applications, ranging from EMC Documentum to IBM Filenet to BancTec eFirst Archive. Most users will want to choose an application that is designed for archiving and not backup.

While the device will work as a backup target, that is not its primary function. The key here is to define the Infinivault as an archival target, and use an application that not only leverages the unit’s WORM capabilities, but also keeps track of both live data and shelved data. Another important element to consider is what type of data will be archived: Will it be e-mail and electronic messaging or database information or just electronic files? All of those decisions will affect how the Infinivault is used and what supporting software is chosen.

For sites looking into archiving e-mail for compliance and e-discovery purposes, a good choice would be Archive Manager from Quest Software, which has been tested with the Infinivault product line. Archive Manager is designed for Microsoft environments and captures, indexes and stores a single instance of messaging data into a scalable and secure repository, which is placed on an Infinivault device. The combination of Archive Manager and Infinivault creates a cost-effective archiving solution that promises to offer faster e-discovery response and strict compliance through the preservation of business-critical messaging data.

Of course, many other software products exist that tout archiving and compliance functionality, and deploying those applications will be the real money makers for solution providers. The Infinivault Model 3 has an MSRP of $14,995. The company would not disclose partner margins.

All things considered, Prostor Systems is offering an excellent, unique solution with the Infinivault series of products, with which solution providers can build profitable archival solutions that offer industry-leading features.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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