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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.