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BroadBand Tower, Inc. is a pioneering Internet data center operating company in Japan. It began operation in 2000 as an independent service operator. The company also sells enterprise data storage products, such as EMC Isilon Scale-Out NAS, and offers maintenance services. BroadBand Tower's wide range of solutions designed to respond to Big Data management needs have earned trust and acclaim from many customers. In April 2016, as a Panasonic marketing partner, BroadBand Tower launched the sales of Panasonic optical disc library systems for data archiving. Why did BroadBand Tower focus on Panasonic's optical disc library system? We asked Mr. Yosuke Hiyama, senior director of the Sales Group in BroadBand Tower, about the background and strategy.
BroadBand Tower, Inc.
The term "archive" refers to a transfer of rarely used data to a dedicated long-term storage area. The importance of data archiving in terms of information life cycle management was recognized some time ago, and it is again drawing a great deal of attention due to the rapid popularization of smart devices, the diffusion of social media, and the proliferation of IoT in recent years.
"One of the background factors is that there has been increased demand for long-term storage of data for a period of more than 10 years in order to meet legal requirements and ensure compliance. In fact, today's general trend in the world is to save all data. In other words, companies cannot discard data easily even if the data is no longer used. Another background factor is that as the amount of data handled by companies increases at an explosive rate, companies are seeking ways to utilize data for the purpose of expanding their business. To respond to changes in company needs and changes in the environment surrounding data management, we believe it's necessary to build a new archiving structure completely different from conventional systems."
Magnetic tape has been commonly used for archiving data. The storage capacity and durability of tape have improved over the years, and the cost is low. However, Mr. Hiyama points out that when it comes to the utilization of Big Data, tape has its limitations as a data archiving medium.
"If you transfer data to tape and put it away in a storage place, you are simply safeguarding the data. Of course it is important to protect data, but data is useless unless it is easily accessible and can be used whenever needed. For instance, when you want to borrow a book from a library, how would you feel if the librarian told you that the book is in storage and it'll take a few days to receive it? In an era in which the speed of Big Data utilization can determine the success or failure of a business, I don't think conventional systems can perform well enough to respond to users' needs."
Against this backdrop, BroadBand Tower turned its attention to Panasonic's optical disc library system, which uses large-capacity write-once optical discs. The company regards the Panasonic product as the most promising system for archiving data.
Panasonic's optical disc library system uses write-once Blu-ray discs as a medium for archiving data. Blu-ray discs offer a data storage life of 100 years or more.* Unlike HDD or magnetic tape, Blu-ray discs do not require periodic data migration or operation checks for a long time. They also significantly reduce the man-hours required for data archiving work. At the same time, the system protects data integrity and reduces TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) thanks to the characteristics of the optical disc system, such as the long life, write-once feature for preventing data alteration, backward compatibility of the drive, low power consumption of 7 W in standby mode and high durability against environmental changes. We asked Mr. Hiyama what made BroadBand Tower decide to be a Panasonic partner for product marketing?
"Target customers of the Panasonic optical disc library system are not limited to large companies that already have massive amounts of digital data. All companies and organizations that currently store immense amounts of information on paper, such as government offices and museums, are also potential customers. Given that, the potential market for optical disc data archiving systems is huge. When it becomes a common practice in the near future to convert data of all types to digital and store it for an indefinite period of time, we think the need will definitely increase for optical disc library systems that offer a data storage life of 100 years,* consume minimal electricity, and require practically no electricity to control the storage temperature."
With the ability to store large volumes of data for a long time and the capability to allow online access, Panasonic's optical disc library system meets the needs of companies utilizing Big Data.
"The low unit cost of capacity is an attractive feature of tape, but tape should be used for storing backup data just in case. Optical discs, on the other hand, resist degradation caused by frequent access, safeguard data for a long period of time, and allow quick access to data whenever necessary; thus, they are very suitable for archiving data. We tested the Panasonic optical disc library system to verify the speed of storing data and reading stored data. The test data showed that the speed of optical discs is only slightly slower than an online hard disk, and we did not have any impression of slowness at all. Compared to retrieving the tape from its storage place and reading data from the tape, there is a world of difference."
* In the case of the "Archival Disc," the latest Write-Once-Read-Many optical disc. The estimated lifetime based on acceleration tests that are being conducted by Panasonic. Note that it is not a guaranteed value.
"As a data center operator with advanced storage maintenance technology, BroadBand Tower considers not only IT devices owned by companies but also data stored in those devices as important company assets. Based on this notion, BroadBand Tower is focused on safe and reliable management of data. By marketing Panasonic's optical disc library system, BroadBand Tower will be able to manage information assets more reliably and operate our business more effectively in the long term," explains Mr. Hiyama with a sign of confidence. As an example, he mentions the automated tiering solution that links EMC Isilon and the Panasonic optical disc library system at an advanced level.
"One of the newest functions of the Isilon units is Isilon CloudPools.* Our verification test confirmed that data stored in EMC Isilon units and data stored in the Panasonic optical disc library system can be managed in a single namespace by using Isilon CloudPools. The automated tiering function of the EMC Isilon allows the transparent transfer of rarely used data stored in an Isilon unit to the optical disc library system. This protects existing IT investments and also leads to the optimization of the entire storage system. Furthermore, we are planning to offer a data archiving cloud service using the optical disc library system," according to Mr. Hiyama.
* CloudPools is the newest application for Isilon products released by EMC Corporation on November 10, 2015. It enables easy extention of EMC Isilon units to a public cloud or the like without using a cloud gateway, thus allowing data access from anywhere.
Panasonic's optical disc library system is expected to be a next-generation archiving product, but it is not recognized widely as an enterprise storage medium yet.
"For instance, even when we explain that we use Blu-ray discs for archiving data, there are quite a few customers who misunderstand them as something similar to rewritable DVDs. The Blu-ray discs used by the optical disc library system are write-once media. Since data can be written only once on those discs, there is no risk of data alteration. This makes Blu-ray discs very suitable for archiving data. That's a feature we need to stress to customers together with Panasonic," says Mr. Hiyama.
There's also another reason BroadBand Tower regards Panasonic highly. Panasonic has accumulated world-leading, cutting-edge technologies as a device manufacturer. Panasonic has shifted its focus to B2B business, such as in the automotive and energy fields. This is a new business side of Panasonic, a unique global device manufacturer that leads the global industry.
"As far as optical discs and peripheral system technologies are concerned, I think Panasonic is the most advanced company in the world. Therefore, when our data center provides a data archiving service to customers, we emphasize that we use the Panasonic optical disc library system. That increases the customers' confidence in our service," explains Mr. Hiyama.
More and more companies will struggle with archiving huge amounts of data in the near future. Whether or not a company knows about optical disc library systems will have a major bearing on the company's data archiving strategy.
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BroadBand Tower, Inc.
Uchisaiwai-cho Tokyu Building, 1-3-2, Uchisaiwai-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0011, Japan