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Talking Ancient Data Backup with Tributary Systems

By Glenn Garrahan, Director HPE Business

Tributary Systems


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So this month I’m going to talk about ancient data backup, and I don’t mean really old stale data, but the earliest method for backing up transactional data-Cuneiform…..

Cuneiform- what in the world are you talking about? Well, cuneiform is one of the earliest systems of writing yet discovered. Originated by the Sumerians in Mesopotamia sometime around 3200 BCE (or 5200 years ago), cuneiform (which means “wedge-shaped”) most commonly used a wedge shaped stylus to emboss symbols on clay tablets, usually about the size of the palm of one’s hand.

Interestingly, cuneiform was developed from an earlier system of shaped tokens used for accounting.  Imagine that, the Sumerians needed a system to keep track of accounting data over 5000 years ago! Contrary to what many people believe, cuneiform was not used solely for grandiose purposes like recording edicts from the king, or proclaiming treaties with other nations, but for documenting how many goats you owed the merchant a half a mile down the Euphrates, or other mundane day to day transactions. In fact, there’s been over a half-million cuneiform tablets found, and most deal with transactions between unknown individuals, not royalty.  Hmmm, sounds pretty similar to modern transaction processing and data backup.

While confined to the near and middle –east, cuneiform was not a language exclusive system of writing. In other words, it was used to convey written messages in Akkadian, Eblaite, Elamite, Hattic, Hittite, Hurrian, Luwian, Sumerian, Urartian, and Old Persian. Think of it like this, our modern 26 character alphabet can be employed to convey thoughts in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese, etc. Again, a very modern concept over 5 millennia old.

Speaking of the clay tablets, as cuneiform developed over the centuries, what were originally pictograms became the more familiar wedge shaped signs, increasing the amount of information that could be recorded on a single clay tablet. Evidently data density isn’t a new concept either. Plus, there was a system for data retention periods. If the information didn’t need to be archived, but was required for a short time only, the tablet would be left moist so that it could be wiped clean and reused. If archival storage was required, the clay tablet would be fired, these are what archeologists find today, centuries later. Pretty good long term storage media don’t you think?

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Two examples of cuneiform clay tablets with scale, from the British Museum.

Now, if your NonStop servers are somewhat more modern than cuneiform tablets, why not pair them with the most modern backup/restore/archive/DR PBBA available, Storage Director from Tributary Systems?

Storage Director is the industry leading software defined, policy-based and tiered Enterprise Purpose Built Backup Appliance that enables data from any host, OS or backup application, to be backed up to any storage device, medium or technology. For Cloud-based backup, Storage Director interfaces with IBM’s Cloud Object Storage, Hitachi’s HCP, or any S3 compatible cloud.

Being a fully virtualized target for any backup management application, such as Spectrum Protect, NetBackup, Commvault, Veeam, etc., Storage Director enables policy-based data pools to be created and backed up to multiple targets and replicated for remote storage and DR, securely and without host intervention. Concurrent with HPE NonStop backups, Storage Director is able to present a single backup target or solution for backing up all open environments, such as Linux, Windows, VMWare, UNIX, etc. as well as other proprietary host platforms, such as IBM Mainframe (z/OS), iSeries, HP Open VMS etc. on a single node

Simply put, Storage Director is the most straightforward and best way to connect any NonStop server to any storage device or the Cloud (Public or Private). Storage Director provides for secure and high-performance Backup/ Restore/Archive/DR operations at the lowest cost.

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Of course, if you’d like additional information on NonStop Tape or Storage Director, visit, or call Matt Allen at 817-786-3066 (office) or 713-492-7434 (cell).

Storage Director allows NonStop professionals to “augment what they have and use it in creative new ways!”