XenData specializes in digital archiving solutions. The company recently collaborated with Qualstar, launching a turnkey data storage solutions that runs XenData software on Qualstar’s BQ Series Video Archive Systems.
I started in the data storage industry 20 years ago, as did Mark Broadbent – the other XenData co-founder. Our focus has always been on bringing leading edge archival solutions to market. Back in the 1990’s we addressed optical disk based solutions but today optical storage does not provide sufficient capacity or level of performance when compared to magnetic disks and data tape.
Can you talk a little bit about founding XenData? For instance, what need did you perceive in the industry that lead you to start it?
We founded XenData in late 2001 and saw an opportunity for a new breed of digital archive systems based on data tape and RAID; it just needed the right software. Data tapes, such as LTO, are ideal for long-term archiving of video files: they are robust, extremely reliable and have an archival lifetime of over 30 years. Whereas, RAID provides short access times which complements the characteristics of tape.
Our emphasis was always on both high performance and the use of IT standards. We realized that the use of standards is vital for long-term archives. For example, without a standards-based approach to recording video files to data tape, the user is trapped into maintaining the storage management software for decades. XenData software writes to data tape using the POSIX tar format which means that video files can be restored from data tapes using many types of third party software including Windows Services for UNIX, native Linux and UNIX operating systems.
XenData archiving software has strong built-in data protection as it creates multiple instances of each video file. When a file is archived, it is first written to RAID and is then immediately put in a queue to be written to one or more LTO data tapes. Most of our customers configure XenData software to write each file to two data tapes and, in this case, the system automatically creates a replica copy tape for offsite retention and disaster recovery purposes.
Turning to your second question, the archive is accessed as a standard file system. Our design approach is to emulate a file system on magnetic disk. This means that files are written to and restored from a standard network share using standard CIFS/SMB or FTP network protocols. The benefit of this approach is that other standards based software can work with the archive without need for modification or use of APIs.
Are your systems geared more towards large-scale archiving? Or can they be tailored for smaller studios as well?
We cover a wide range of digital video archiving needs from those of a large broadcaster with over 100,000 hours of video to those of a smaller studio. For the most demanding applications, we have a solution that runs on multiple servers for high overall data throughput. However, most of our sales are for archives that run on a single Windows server and manage a single LTO tape library.
Do you find the demand for lower-cost archiving has grown? If so, did that have to do with your partnership with Qualstar?
A key goals for me is to make digital video archives more affordable, easier to implement and easier to use. We have certainly seen a strong increase in the demand for lower cost digital archives, especially over the last twelve months. This ties in with the Qualstar-XenData initiative whereby Qualstar ships its archive servers pre-loaded with XenData software and fully tested with the accompanying LTO tape library. XenData than provides web training and advice on configuring archive policies. This all goes to reducing costs for the user.
Can you tell us anything about the company’s next steps?
We continue to focus on developing compelling data storage solutions and plan to continue our trend of making digital video archiving easier ‘ easier on the check book as well as operationally!
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