SoftCo Storlife Frequently Asked Questions
What is SoftCo Storlife?
SoftCo Storlife is a Content Addressed Storage (CAS) and lifecycle management solution.
What is CAS?
CAS is a mechanism for storing information (i.e. documents or data objects) that can be retrieved based on its content, rather than its storage location. It is typically used for high-speed storage and retrieval of fixed content which can be subject to compliance and regulatory standards.
How does it work?
When an application stores a document or data object in SoftCo Storlife, SoftCo Storlife generates a 'Digital Fingerprint' (using either MD5 or SHA1 hashing algorithms) based on the content of the file. The application program records the digital fingerprint and uses it to uniquely reference the file. When the file is subsequently retrieved the fingerprint is recalculated, retrieved from the data file header and a 3-way match on the fingerprint is done to ensure that the content has not been changed or modified since it was originally archived.
What is Single Instance Storage?
Single Instance Storage (SIS) is a system's ability to keep one copy of content that multiple users or computers share. It is a means of eliminating data duplication and increasing storage utilisation efficiency. SoftCo Storlife SIS ensures that if a user or application attempts to store the same data multiple times, SoftCo Storlife will not consume additional disk space for the subsequent copies and will return a unique reference for each instance of the data. This is important because there may be different lifecycle policies for different instances of the same data.
What is Lifecycle Management?
Different documents within an organisation need to be kept for different lengths of time. Some documents, invoices for example, need to be retained for a minimum period of time to comply with tax regulations. Other documents can only be kept for a defined periods and must then be certifiably destroyed, e.g. personal phone records in some jurisdictions must be destroyed after 2 years.
SoftCo Storlife's Lifecycle Management functionality allows data to be stored and managed according to its particular lifecycle policies at the storage or 'series' level. A series is a set of data or documents which share the same retention policy. Policies can be defined to retain data permanently, to destroy it ('garbage collection') after a predetermined period of time, or after a variable period of time e.g. 2 years following the closing of a bank account.
How does Assured Content Authenticity work?
All data is stored with a unique Digital Fingerprint (using either MD5 or SHA1 hashing algorithm or a combination of both) based on the complete contents of the file. This fingerprint is statistically unique and is generated when the document is stored. An application must provide this fingerprint when trying to retrieve a document from SoftCo Storlife. SoftCo Storlife compares this fingerprint with the original file retrieved from SoftCo Storlife and revalidates the file to ensure that it is authentic.
Does SoftCo Storlife require specific hardware or software?
SoftCo Storlife is completely hardware-independent and is not tied to vendor specific hardware. The service will run on any Microsoft Windows 2003 Server and can utilise any Windows Addressable file storage device e.g. RAID, SAN, NAS or iSCSI.
Does SoftCo Storlife support encryption?
Yes - There are encryption options - data encryption during transmission ('on-the-wire') and/or encryption of the stored data to further ensure its security. The encryption system used is AES (Advanced Encryption System) as specified by the US Department of Defense (DOD 5220.22M).
Does SoftCo Storlife dispose of content?
Yes - Data shredding can be activated for individual series types, rendering the content unrecoverable. SoftCo Storlife supports the Department of Defense DOD 5220.22M standard of 7 overwrites for permanent data erasure on magnetic hard drives.
Does SoftCo Storlife support compression?
Yes - SoftCo Storlife supports the compression of data when being stored to further maximise the efficient use of storage space. This is optional at the series level and should be used with data types that compress well - e.g. XML, HTML, Text.
How does it store the data?
Data is stored in large binary self-contained files (usually 4GB each) on the particular storage device e.g. SAN, NAS etc. and are visible to standard backup agents. Space for these can be pre-allocated or allocated 'on-the-fly'.
What database does it use to store metadata?
SoftCo Storlife supports Microsoft SQL Server 2005 (Enterprise, Standard or the free SQL Express) and Oracle 10g Database server.
How do 3rd party applications interface with SoftCo Storlife?
SoftCo Storlife provides a standard .Net control API allowing 3rd parties to quickly and easily interface with it. This interface can also be accessed via COM.
SoftCo Storlife also provides a File System Interface called the File System Gateway which allows applications to write and retrieve files and folders to SoftCo Storlife as they would to any windows volume.
What about security?
Security is implemented on multiple levels. There is a privately encrypted key that must be passed from any client to the server to allow access over the network. Access to the management website is controlled by windows integrated authentication. Using 'lock down', the file system data is only available to the service account and every other user including administrators are prohibited from modifying or deleting the data. The binary data files should be located on a portion of SAN which is only available to the SoftCo Storlife server and not visible on the network.
Is SoftCo Storlife compatible with virtualisation?
Yes - it is compatible with server virtualisation applications such as VMWare and Microsoft Virtual Server 2005. It is also compatible with storage virtualisation strategies and can use storage across multiple devices.
Does SoftCo Storlife support replication?
Yes - There are options on the series for both synchronous and asynchronous replication. The replication can be carried out over TCP/IP or HTTP. SoftCo Storlife is built on grid computing and RAIN storage architectures to deliver a highly scalable and resilient system. With a choice of deployment architectures, Systems Administrators can choose the appropriate configuration options such as network load balanced active/active servers, replicated servers, multiple or parallel servers to ensure no single point of failure and provide for automatic fail-over.
What about Retrieval?
SoftCo Storlife incorporates an optional high performance integrated Retrieval Component delivering advanced search features, high speed indexing, workflow and query capabilities. Alternatively, using non-proprietary, open standards based APIs, SoftCo Storlife can be quickly and easily integrated with third party applications to deliver real-time responsiveness and seamless retrieval of stored content.
What makes SoftCo Storlife unique?
The key differentiators are SoftCo Storlife's hardware platform independence, cost, higher performance, maximum disk space utilisation and its ability to handle large quantities of small data elements.