Start-up Archivas introduces storage product

Archivas Inc. Monday announced the Archivas Cluster (ArC), an object-based system for storing fixed-content data.

ArC addresses the management and data-protection challenges life science companies face when dealing with the long-term storage of fixed-content data such as experiment results, images, and documents related to drug development.

The idea for the ArC product came from company founder and CEO Andres Rodriguez. Before starting Archivas, Rodriguez served as chief technology officer at The New York Times, where he worked on an archiving project to bring approximately 150 years of material online. Hence his interest in dealing with large, fixed-content databases.

Archivas is touting ArC as an alternative to two fixed-content, long-term storage options -- tape backup or proprietary storage systems -- that exist today.

Using tape backup systems for large volumes of data is slow, and the management of physical tapes over many years is burdensome when the data must be accessed regularly. For these reasons, many companies are adopting a new storage strategy whereby tapes continue to be used for long-term data safeguarding, while disk-based storage systems are used to keep the data available online.

Often these disk-based systems for fixed-content data require a tight coupling between a storage device and the application that creates, uses, and saves the data.

Archivas' approach does not tie the storage device to the host, according to Rodriguez. Instead, ArC provides a single online repository of fixed-content data that can be accessed by multiple applications.

To accomplish this, ArC uses an object-based approach, which simplifies the management of fixed-content data. Rather than storing and managing a file alone, ArC stores objects that combine the file, metadata associated with that file, and the retention and protection policies for that file.

With this approach, "access to the (data) is not dependent on the application," says Rodriguez. "So over time, applications may come and go, but the data is retained."

The ArC software provides a number of features necessary to safeguard data and to meet regulatory requirements. For example, when it comes to data protection, ArC supports RAID to ensure data protection and availability.

ArC features like WORM (write-once, read-many times) guarantees, file authentication, time-stamping, and retention and purge date enforcement can be used to support HIPAA and 21 CFR Part 11 compliance.

ArC offers other benefits, too. For instance, using ArC's object management and authentication feature (which ensures that the content of a file matches its digital signature), duplicate files can be identified so that only one copy of a file is stored. This can save significant amounts of disk space when, for example, many researchers are working with the same data or file.

The ArC product is currently installed at a number of customer sites and is available in a limited release today. It will be generally available in September. Archivas sees its software being offered through systems vendor partners as a storage appliance.

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