Archivas has released the latest version of its ArC storage system claiming better search facilities, faster file storage and larger capacity.

The content-addressable storage (CAS) approach it uses has entered mainstream storage with EMC's Centera and last week StorageTek introduced its IntelliStore CAS appliance.

CAS products generally code files to be archived using a mathamatical hash algorithm. Alongside this they store data about the file, metadata, such as its name, author, size, creation date and so forth. When businesses need to look at what's in their CAS archive they are limited to looking at the metadata as the coded file contents cannot be looked into directly. They would have to be decoded which would make searches take an inordinately long time.

While EMC's Centera only searches file meta data however, Archivas' product searches both the meta data and the indexed file contents. (It indexes the file contents when the file is written to its archive.) So you can effectively run a keyword search inside e-mails.

In theory it should provide better responses to compliance requests because it could find data dealing with the topic of the request more easily, although there are no industry standard tests so it remains subjective and vendor comparisons are difficult.

Any business needing to store fixed content for a long-time could use this in-file search facility, particularly businesses affected by compliance regulations. And Archivas is hoping that will mean virtually every financial services business and businesses with a listing in US stock exchanges.

EMC's Centera is "owned" by one application using it. The Archivas product, like StorageTek's IntelliStore, can deal with several applications. EMC Centera can tolerate one disk failure in its store; Archivas can tolerate three by storing more copies of the data.

Archivas can have up to 50 nodes in an Archivas cluster. As nodes are added both capacity and performance grow. The new version can also write data four times faster than before.

The cost for an ArC system Cost is $12 to $15 per GB, including the hardware. A 4TB Archivas archive would cost $48,000 to $60,000. For comparison a 4TB StorageTek IntelliStore costs $75,000. An entry-level Centera costs around $96,000.

Like Permabit, dropped by StorageTek in favour of its own IntelliStore, Archivas could use an OEM partner to provide a worldwide sales channel. Network Appliance does not yet have CAS technology.

Partial CAS portal
A Content-addressable storage information website has been set up, but search for Archivas on this site in vain. The founding sponsors are EMC, ESG, HP, Permabit and Sun. Revivio, another CAS supplier is also not mentioned in this site, which appears not to be a truly open CAS information source. The chairman of the CAS advisory board, the organisation behind the CAS portal, is Tanya Loughlin, Strategic Program Manager - EMC Centera Division.