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Fujifilm and iRODS Launch Object Storage for Tape Archives

Object Archive is designed to help universities, governments and other enterprises store information in more efficient ways. The launch reflects the ongoing rise in data storage needs for publicly funded organizations.

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Fujifilm has launched a new product designed to bring object storage into modern tape archiving software.

Fujifilm Recording Media U.S.A. has teamed with the iRODS Consortium, an open source data management software provider, on the new tool, called Fujifilm Object Archive.

While tape storage is an older form of data management, Fujifilm is touting how Object Archive can bring fresh efficiency to the storage and access of the mountains of information collected by public agencies, public universities and other organizations.

As Fujifilm told it in a statement, "Object Archive software supports the new, higher-capacity LTO-9 tape technology, making the solution potentially even more efficient, economical and scalable."

Meant for clients that “produce massive amounts of research and analytics data,” the new software tool is designed so that users can better store and access via automated workflows much of the information being accumulated.

More specifically, the tool targets so-called “cold” data — that is, data that is rarely accessed — that is stored on tape. Higher education facilities, governments and other enterprises typically have requirements to store large amounts of data, though it can sometimes be challenging to access and secure it in an efficient manner.

Object Archive could prove especially attractive to higher education, Chris Kehoe, the project engineer for the iRODS integration, told Government Technology. That's in part because they face strict rules about preserving data, especially when gained via publicly funded research.

“Having a plan for data preservation inside the institution is extremely important,” he said.

As well, he said, universities also share and store each other’s data, and this new tool could help with those arrangements.

“Probably every state doing any type of research has these types of collaboration requirements,” he said, talking about those publicly funded schools.

According to Fujifilm, Object Archive optimizes object storage with tape archiving software. Object storage refers to the computer management of data as objects, or units — that stands in contrast to, say, file systems.

Doing so, at least as Fujifilm tells it, provides security and cost advantages and enables relatively easy scaling. Users can keep a copy of their data, which could reduce the risk of paying egress fees to cloud storage providers should those users change providers. This tool can also help organizations meet data compliance rules.

Data storage, access and security are among the hottest topics in higher education and among state and local governments. Perhaps the main reason for that is simply the amount of data being collected by agencies. Corona, Calif., for instance, has recently experienced a 20 percent increase in data volume, according to one city official there.

Such trends are certain to increase, according to Dave Fellinger, data management technologist for the iRODS Consortium, whose data management platform is part of the Fujifilm initiative.

“We are seeing state and local governments taking on responsibility for earth sciences and tracking carbon footprints,” he told Government Technology by way of example.

But efforts to grasp the impacts of climate change hardly represent the only ongoing data challenge for governments, said Terrell Russell, interim executive director of the iRODS Consortium, which he said has experience working with libraries and archives — organizations centered around the proposition of long-term information storage.

“Data sits on a shelf until you need it,” he said. “Governments have the obligation to keep stuff around.”
Thad Rueter writes about the business of government technology. He covered local and state governments for newspapers in the Chicago area and Florida, as well as e-commerce, digital payments and related topics for various publications. He lives in Wisconsin.