Copan, the supplier of MAID storage is to add larger disks and de-duplication software to its products. Users will be able to double, triple, quadruple, even quintuple, the amount of raw data they can store on Copan's Revolution arrays, and perhaps gain even greater storage efficiencies.

With MAID idle disks are spun down. They are checked periodically to make sure they and their contents are still okay. A processor per array shelf does this in what's called disk aerobics. It means that Copan can pack many more disks per shelf than any other manufacturer. With idle drives there is far less vibration and heat in the rack, dramatically lowering energy costs.

Compared to a tape vault user or application, access to data is still very much quicker than to an offline tape cartridge. Currently, with 500GB serial ATA (SATA) drives a Copan rack, aka subsystem, can store 448TB of data. This is raw data. It comes in three personalities, provided by an attached Intel processor and software: virtual tape library (VTL), file, or block.

Now Copan is anticipating a move to 750GB drives; rack capacity will rise to 680TB. Later 1TB are coming and rack capacity will then go to an incredible 896TB; that's getting near a petabyte of storage in a rack. No one else comes remotely close to what Copan can do in terms of rack disk density.


But wait, it's going to get better. Copan is adding FalconStor de-duplication to its VTL personality product. It already uses FalconStor's VTL software so there is a natural fit. This software can de-dupe with a 12:1 ratio. That means that, theoretically, you can cram 12TB of data into 1TB of disk. In effect it expands the raw data capacity of the Copan VTL twelvefold, to 5,376TB or 5.4PB.

Already a MAID VTL uses far, far less power than the equivalent Clariion or EVA drive array. Copan's power density is better than 90 TB/KW, which compares to an average Fibre Channel disk products’ 4 TB/KW, or the average SATA disk products’ power density of about 17 TB/KW. A Copan MAID VTL is over five more efficient in its energy use for 448TB of storage than average SATA arrays.

Add in the effect of de-duping. A de-duping MAID VTL will be 60 times more power-efficient than storing the raw data on SATA arrays. It will also be hugely space-efficient. One MAID VTL rack will store as much data as six EMC CDL 4400 or NetApp 1400 racks. But a de-duped MAID VTL rack will store as much data as 72 EMC CDL 4400 or NetApp 1400 racks.

Imagine the power and cooling costs saved. It will be hundreds of thousands of dollars or pounds a year. We're talking here of today's 448TB Copan racks. Later this year we'll see 680TB ones with 896TB ones coming. The numbers speak for themselves. This is the only technology around for storing unstructured and persistent data at these levels of storage density, power efficiency, and disk-level I/O speed instead of tape.

De-duping is coming. Sepaton has launched its S2100-DS2 Series 500 virtual tape library (VTL) and its de-duplication software application, DeltaStor, in the UK and mainland Europe. There are two VTL configurations with either 3.5- or 7TB of disk space. Through de-duping Sepaton thinks up to 200TB of raw data can be stored on the 7TB one; an amazing 20-25:1 de-dupe ratio. But Sepaton does not use MAID technology.

Copan has blue chip customers in financial services, media and entertainment and the public sector plus health care. In the UK Copan counts Credit Suisse, BT, the Meteorological Office and the NHS among its clients. It's spending heavily on developing its sales coverage and has an OEM deal with Xiotech and a reselling arrangement with Sun.

Copan has had three rounds of funding and may be considering an IPO or a fourth round. The future is looking very bright for this company. It has the right technology for the market at a time when green concerns and energy and space concerns are coming to the fore. It may be time for you to pay attention if this MAID comes knocking on your door.