To back up his 1.7 million images, legendary photographer Jay Blakesberg selected QNAP network-attached storage appliances.

May 31 2022

Businesses Need Modern Solutions to Backup Their Most Important Asset: Their Data

Storage options abound. The one that’s right for a business depends on its unique circumstances.

When rock icon Tom Petty died in 2017, Rolling Stone magazine editors needed a photo of the music legend for the cover of a special tribute issue. They knew who to call: San Francisco photographer Jay Blakesberg

Blakesberg, a legend in his own right, has documented the music industry for more than four decades, shooting concerts, album packages for record companies and portraits of musicians, from the Grateful Dead and Carlos Santana to Dr. Dre and Kronos Quartet. 

The 60-year-old photographer and documentary filmmaker has shot more than 300 assignments for Rolling Stone in his career. When the magazine called, he dug into his archives and quickly found all his digital and scanned photos of Petty in folders in his hard-drive storage system.

He sent 100 of his best Petty photos. The editors chose an electrifying close-up shot of Petty in action for the magazine’s cover, guitar around his shoulder and his right arm raised in glory after delivering a triumphant performance.

“I’ve got nearly 2 million images of rock and roll history in my archives. It’s pop culture history and a valuable resource and generates revenue,” Blakesberg says. “People use my photographs for books, magazines, documentary films and album releases. That’s why I have it easily accessible on a storage system because if I can’t find what I’ve shot, I can’t monetize it.”  

To back up his 1.7 million images, legendary photographer Jay Blakesberg selected QNAP network-attached storage appliances.

Businesses and nonprofit organizations of all sizes need modern technology to store and back up their critical data to keep it safe from hackers, file corruption and other mishaps. 

Many are adopting solid-state drive networked storage solutions for their primary storage because they are faster, quieter and more reliable than traditional hard-disk drives.

One common approach is to replicate data to a second set of storage hardware on-premises as well as to the cloud. But there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.

A business that primarily uses cloud applications, for example, should also store its data there, says Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst of StorageIO. And while SSDs are increasingly popular, other storage media types — including HDDs and even tape storage — remain viable options for organizations across different tiers of storage.

“The key is to understand your environment, your business and your application performance, availability, capacity and economic needs,” Schulz says. “Have those in perspective when you start shopping.”

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Finding a Picture Perfect Storage Solution for Valuable Assets

In early 2022, Blakesberg upgraded to two new QNAP network-attached storage appliances, each featuring 16 7.6-terabyte Kingston SSDs.

His previous storage hardware, initially built around 2010, was a workhorse, but it was time to upgrade for two reasons: His hard drives were near their end of life, but more important, there was a glitch in his data backup software, preventing him from backing up his photos and video.

“We were stuck with a backup system that wasn’t backing up anymore, so we pulled out a bunch of spare drives and used them to back up everything new,” Blakesberg says.

In 2010, his then-IT staffer built the storage solution with two separate RAID tower enclosures housing 24 hard drives each. One storage rack backed up the other. He’s upgraded the hard drives three times, doubling storage capacity each time, from 2TB to 4TB to 8TB. A few years ago, he improved redundancy by replacing a third storage system — a custom on-premises Linux server that stored a second backup copy — with offsite cloud storage.

Late last year, Blakesberg spent two months trying to solve his data backup problem. The software vendor finally figured out a fix, but by that time, Blakesberg had decided to modernize with all-SSD storage appliances.

RELATED: Learn more about the benefits of software-defined storage.

“I’ve wanted to move to solid-state for a while, for its speed, longevity and cost savings — my office electricity bill is enormous because I have spinning disks 24/7,” says Blakesberg, whose photographs are part of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s permanent collection. 

Today, the primary QNAP system, which houses 50TB of photos and video, automatically backs up data three times a day to the secondary QNAP system. A 10-gigabyte QNAP switch connects the two appliances, which speeds data transfer.

With no spinning disks, it’s virtually silent, a vast improvement over the old storage system, which Blakesberg says sounded like a jet engine in his studio. It’s also a highly reliable RAID 6 system, meaning it can handle two drive failures without any data loss. The copy of the archives in the second QNAP appliance is backed up to the cloud twice a week.  

“I’ve moved from 2010 technology to 2022 technology,” he says.

Flash Storage Can Offer the Speedy Access Some Businesses Need

From its home in Seattle, RUN Studios provides video production services and staffing to clients worldwide. Fast, reliable access to digital content is critical for its team of producers, editors and motion graphics designers.

Since becoming IT director in 2016, Joshua Copeland has continually fine-tuned the company’s storage infrastructure to keep it state-of-the-art, and he does so by using different storage media and technologies depending on need.

For example, with business booming, he recently upgraded to SSDs to boost performance and speed video production, but he uses more cost-effective solutions for data backup.

During the past two years, he’s upgraded primary storage by replacing two HDD storage systems with all-flash Synology FlashStation FS6400 appliances featuring 350TB of Seagate Nytro SSD storage. The SSDs not only improve application performance, but also transfer video from cameras to the storage hardware three times faster.

READ MORE: Dell PowerStore offers flexible storage options for any environment.

“We have quick turnaround times, and it cuts down on the time it takes to transfer data from cameras to the production environment,” Copeland says. “It makes all the difference in the world to have all that data in there in a timely manner. From a business operations perspective, the more churn we get as far as pushing projects through, the more money we make.”

He backs up production data twice to bolster his disaster recovery posture. With the two all-flash Synology appliances installed, he’s redeployed his two older HDD-based devices for additional backup. He also backs up the data to the Synology Cloud. 

When projects are completed, he quickly archives the data on tape with a Quantum 24-tape library. He also keeps a second pair of tape backups offsite.

“I always want to ensure that our data is safe and secure, so I utilize as many backups available to me within the budget as possible,” Copeland says.

MORE FROM BIZTECH: Innovative solutions such as artificial intelligence require additional storage.

How to Identify a Museum-Quality Storage Solution

Visitors to Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History marvel at its more than 40 million specimens and objects, from dinosaur fossils to Egyptian mummy artifacts. What they may not know is that the nonprofit also has a growing digital collection of nearly 50 million images and files that the IT staff must make available to researchers and museum staff.

The Field Museum uses a hybrid cloud storage solution from Nasuni to manage its files, from traditional business documents to multimedia images, such as CT scans or digital photos of artifacts, architectural drawings for exhibits, and human genome sequencing images and other scientific research, says Rob Zschernitz, the museum’s CTO.

Historically, the museum used traditional storage area networks, but they were expensive and not scalable enough to meet scientists’ research needs and the museum’s own efforts to digitize its collection.


The reduction in storage costs realized by the Field Museum when it migrated from on-premises SAN storage to the Nusani hybrid cloud solution

Source: The Field Museum of Natural History


Zschernitz migrated storage to Nasuni in 2015 and has not looked back. Today, the Field Museum runs two virtual Nasuni edge appliances on its HPE SimpliVity hyperconverged infrastructure equipment. The two virtual appliances store 15TB of the most frequently accessed data on-premises, while the rest of the museum’s 115TB of data is stored in the cloud.

“If someone requests a file that’s no longer local, it will go out to the cloud and pull it down for the user,” Zschernitz says.

Nasuni provides the museum with the cost-effective, on-demand scalability it needs, he says. It’s also simple for the IT staff to set up new storage volumes and permissions, and Nasuni automatically takes snapshots of files. 

“Getting additional storage just takes a phone call,” Zschernitz says. “I tell them I need an additional 10TB of storage, and it’s provisioned in a week or two. There is no additional hardware, and the costs are predictable.”

Photography by Taylor Ahlquist

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