BlackPearl 5 Simulator Now Available

We have released a new BlackPearl simulator which is running the latest version of our BlackPearl 5.0 code, scheduled for release in late June. You can get the simulator on our Downloads page. SDKs for BlackPearl 5 are also available on this page. Make sure to carefully follow the simulator setup instructions. Contact the Developer Program Team if you need assistance.


Upcoming BlackPearl 5.0 Release Requires Client Recertification

BlackPearl’s next release, 5.0, is expected in June, and will introduce several important and exciting new features for our customers, including the following:

  • Intelligent Object Management – This features allows objects to self-heal if there is a problem detected with one copy and there are multiple copies available; allows tapes to be re-compacted; allows data to be migrated from one tape type to another; and allows objects to be staged from tape to disk for faster read access.
  • Versioning – BlackPearl will allow multiple versions of the same objects to be uploaded and saved

In order to implement these new features, changes to the BlackPearl API are required that could affect existing BlackPearl clients. With some major BlackPearl releases (3.0, 5.0, etc.), changes to the BlackPearl API are introduced to support new features and to remove features that have been deprecated. We do not take these API changes lightly, as we know that any change can affect the functionality of BlackPearl clients. We do everything we can to limit these changes while still allowing for the addition of new features.

The changes in 5.0 will require all BlackPearl clients to be updated, recertified, and retested before they can be used with BlackPearl 5.0. At a high level, here are some of the changes being made to the API that could affect existing clients:

Syntactic changes:

  • Removed fields in payload responses -- can cause errors when these entities are queried.
    • Tapes and pools no longer have storage domain ids -- they have storage domain member ids
    • Objects no longer have the old “version” field because the id is now considered the version
    • Data Policy no longer has “always replicate deletes” or “LTFS naming allowed” -- this functionality has been moved
  • Removed request parameters -- can cause errors if a customer tries to use them
    • The “import conflict resolution mode” query parameter for performing tape and pool imports has been removed
    • The following bucket attributes have been removed:
      •     DEFAULT_WRITE_OPTIMIZATION
      •     DEFAULT_GET_JOB_PRIORITY
      •     DEFAULT_PUT_JOB_PRIORITY
      •     OBJECT_SPANNING
      •     DEFAULT_CHECKSUM
      •     MIN_CLIENT_CHECKSUM
      •     MAX_CLIENT_CHECKSUM
    • Items in the previous section can no longer be filtered by their removed attributes. For example, “get tapes” cannot be filtered by “storage domain id”
  • XML payload attributes that are no longer valid:
    •   priority (now specified as a query parameter)
    •   chunk_client_processing_order_guarantee (now specified as a query parameter)
    •   write optimization (deprecated for xml payloads)
  • Changes to enums -- this includes things like new error message types that can cause errors when received by older clients
    • “Keep multiple versions” is a new versioning type.
    • “Auto compaction in progress” is a new tape type

Semantic Changes:

  • Requests that used to return a 503 “object not uploaded yet” now return a 404.
  • Objects not fully uploaded are no longer listed in an AWS-style “get bucket” command
  • Objects are now marked “latest” once they fully arrive in cache -- not when the job is created.
  • CacheAvailableRetryAfterInSeconds decreased from 300 seconds to 60 seconds -- this is how long Black Pearl recommends the client wait between checking for work to be done on a job
  • The “import conflict resolution mode” query parameter for performing tape and pool imports is still available as an optional parameter, but is ignored if sent.

You can view the full API difference comparison between BlackPearl 4.1 and 5.0. Note that the BlackPearl 5.0 API is still subject to change.

At the very least, clients will need to update to a new release of our SDKs, which will be available on our Downloads page. In some cases, code changes may be required to client integrations.

We have released the 5.0 beta SDKs for Java and .NET now. The Python, C, and Golang SDKs for 5.0 should be available shortly. We also have a BlackPearl running the 5.0 beta release that is available over the Internet. Please Contact the Developer Program Team when you wish to access it.

Testing and recertification will be required to ensure that your client works with BlackPearl 5.0. We will require you to redo the file transfer tests (archive and restore) specified in our Certification Program Test Plan. These tests will need to be done in our lab or at a facility with a BlackPearl and tape library.

Please Contact the Developer Program Team if you require assistance.


New BlackPearl 4.0 Simulator – Includes Simulated Tape Storage

We have released a new version of our BlackPearl simulator, version 4.0, to go with our BlackPearl 4.0 software release this week. In addition to having the latest BlackPearl code, this simulator now also includes a simulated tape library. Previous versions of the simulator only included storage of files in the BlackPearl disk cache. This new version allows files to be stored to cache and then to tape, providing a more realistic version of how a typical BlackPearl behaves when connected to a tape library. This also means that BlackPearl archive operations -- called “Jobs” -- can now reach a final completed state.

BlackPearl client developers, partners, and customers should find this new version of the simulator much more useful for their BlackPearl testing. Please Contact the BlackPearl Developer Program if you have any questions or feedback.


BlackPearl SDK for Python 3 Now Available

Spectra Logic provides software development kits (SDKs) to make it easier to create applications that integrate with BlackPearl. We provide these SDKs in Java, C#/.NET, C, and Python. Our initial Python SDK was built to be used with Python 2. We have now also released a Python SDK that is intended for Python 3.

You can download the Python 3 SDK now. Note that this is a beta release, so please send us any feedback you have on this SDK.

If you are not sure which Python version to use, read about Python 2 versus Python 3 on Python.org.


Importing Foreign LTFS Tapes into BlackPearl

When BlackPearl writes data to tape, it uses the open Linear Tape File System (LTFS) file format. Because of this LTFS support, Spectra Logic was able to add the ability to import non-BlackPearl or “foreign” LTFS tapes to BlackPearl. This is useful for any customer that receives LTFS-formatted tapes from another source and wishes to read those same tapes in the BlackPearl environment. This workflow is particularly common in the Media and Entertainment industry as a way to transfer video files from one group to another. Since every application may utilize the open LTFS format in a different manner when writing data to tapes, it is important that the user verify the various LTFS tape formats will be properly imported for read only use in the BlackPearl environment.

BlackPearl will support the import of foreign LTFS tapes in version 3.5, which is due out in Q1 of 2017. Importing can be done manually via the BlackPearl web management interface or via an external application that calls the BlackPearl API. The “import” process we discuss herein assumes that the foreign LTFS tapes have already been physically imported into the tape library partition to which BlackPearl is connected. Additionally, when a foreign LTFS tape is added to a BlackPearl tape partition, the write-protect switch on the tape cartridge must be set to “read only” before BlackPearl will allow the tape to be imported.  We strongly recommend that the tape be kept in read-only mode so that BlackPearl will not be able to modify the tape in any way. Also note that the API import commands must be initiated by the administrator or “spectra” user.

To manually import foreign LTFS tapes via the web management interface of BlackPearl, users will go to the Tape Management page (Status > Tape Management), click on the tape(s) to be imported, and then go to the Action menu and select Import Foreign Tape.

The tapes can also be imported via an external application that calls the BlackPearl API. While there are several possible workflows that can be taken to import the tapes into BlackPearl by an application, this is one we are currently recommending to our partners:

  1. Application calls API command Get Tapes to get a list of all tapes and their state. Tapes with a state of LTFS_WITH_FOREIGN_DATA should be recorded along with their barcodes.
  2. Application calls API command Raw Import All Tapes to start the process of importing the foreign LTFS tapes. Make sure to make this call using the admin user “spectra”. The application must provide a bucket name in which to import the files on the foreign LTFS tapes. Alternatively the application can call Raw Import Tape to import individual foreign LTFS tapes based on the barcodes recorded from Step 1 above. Again, each time this is called, a bucket name will need to be provided and using this method can allow the application to import different tapes into different buckets if desired.
  3. Application should periodically call API command Get Tapes again to check the state of all tapes. Once there are no more tapes with a state of LTFS Foreign, it means all foreign LTFS tapes have been successfully imported.
  4. Application calls API command Get Physical Placement for Object Parts on Tape to get a list of all files that are on each LTFS tape, using the barcodes recorded in Step 1 above as the input parameter for this call. The application can then read each of these files if needed, such as to create video proxies or to copy them to another location in BlackPearl. If the application doesn’t need to read the files, it can simply record the list of file names.
  5. If the application no longer needs the files on the foreign LTFS tapes, for example because it has read the files and copied them to another bucket in BlackPearl, it can then issue an Eject Tape command for each tape.

As you can see, it is quite easy for applications to work with foreign LTFS tapes in BlackPearl. It is important to remember that the user and/or developer need to confirm that the user’s LTFS tapes can be read by BlackPearl by testing them out. Also, note that BlackPearl will not generate a checksum for the files on foreign LTFS tapes as it does for other files that are imported into BlackPearl. We also don’t currently support importing foreign LTFS tapes that use “tape spanning”, or spanning one file across multiple tapes.

Foreign LTFS tape import is supported in released Java SDK 3.4.0-RC1, and it will be supported by any BlackPearl hardware with code 3.5 and higher. We will soon (in the next two months) also have the foreign LTFS tape import operations available in our other SDKs (C#/.NET, Python, C). We will also soon update our BlackPearl API documentation to include the new foreign LTFS tape import operations.

If you want help working with foreign LTFS tapes in your BlackPearl integration, please contact the Developer Program.


Developer Summit 2016 Recording and Slides

On November 10, 2016, we had a successful, second annual BlackPearl Developer Summit. We have provided a recording, slides, and agenda from the Summit below.

Summit Recording

Slides

Agenda

  • Corporate updates from Spectra CEO Nathan Thompson
  • BlackPearl product overview and enhancements
  • Learn what tools are available to help develop a BlackPearl client
  • Partner presentation detailing client development
  • Learn how easy it is to integrate an existing BlackPearl client into your workflow
  • Demonstration of Avid PAM and BlackPearl integration
  • Demonstration of CatDV BlackPearl integration
  • Question and answer with our BlackPearl Developer Program Team

 

 


Second Annual BlackPearl Developer Summit – Nov 10 2016

Thursday, November 10, 2016 — 9:00 a.m. MDT (UTC -7), WebEx

Join us for Spectra Logic’s second annual BlackPearl Developer Summit, a virtual conference for current and potential developers of Spectra® BlackPearl® Deep Storage Gateway.

Event Agenda:

  • Corporate updates from Spectra CEO Nathan Thompson
  • BlackPearl product overview and enhancements
  • Learn what tools are available to help develop a BlackPearl client
  • Partner presentation detailing client development
  • Learn how easy it is to integrate an existing BlackPearl client into your workflow
  • Demonstration of Avid PAM and BlackPearl integration
  • Question and answer with our BlackPearl Developer Program Team

November 10, 2016 — 9:00 a.m. MDT (UTC -7)
Check Time by Country

REGISTER NOW


Python SDK 3.0 Released

We have released new version 3.0.0 of our BlackPearl Software Development Kit (SDK) for the Python programming language. It is now available for download on GitHub. You can also view code documentation, code examples, and installation instructions on our Documentation page.

This new SDK is compatible with our current BlackPearl 3.0.1 release and allows access to all BlackPearl 3.0 API commands. Note that the previous version of the Python SDK (1.2.0) is also compatible with the current BlackPearl 3.0.1 release but does not give access to all API commands.

Significant code structure changes were made between the 1.2.0 and 3.0.0 release of the Python SDKs. If you will be upgrading an existing client from 1.2.0 to 3.0.0, you should read our Migration Guide, which describes the changes in more detail. We do not anticipate major code structure changes in the future.

The previous 1.x versions of the Python SDK required that that C SDK also be installed. This new 3.0.0 Python SDK is no longer dependent on the C SDK and therefore no longer requires that the C SDK be installed.

We call this 3.0.0 release a “Pre-Release” because, while it has been tested internally, it is not yet in use by any of our partners or customers.

With this SDK release, all four of our SDKs -- Python, C, Java, and .NET/C# -- are now up to date with BlackPearl 3.x code and support all BlackPearl API commands.

If you have any questions or run into any problems, please post your questions to our Forum.


BlackPearl 3.0 C SDK Now Available

We have released new version 3.0.0 of our BlackPearl Software Development Kit (SDK) for the C programming language. It is now available for download on GitHub. You can also view code documentation, code examples, and installation instructions on our Documentation page.

This new SDK is compatible with our current BlackPearl 3.0.1 release and allows access to all BlackPearl 3.0 API commands. Note that the previous version of the C SDK (1.2.0) is also compatible with the current BlackPearl 3.0.1 release but does not give access to all API commands.

Some code structure changes were made between the 1.2.0 and 3.0.0 release of the C SDKs. If you will be upgrading an existing client from 1.2.0 to 3.0.0, you should read our previous blog post Preparing for the BlackPearl 3.0 Release, which describes the changes in more detail.

We call this 3.0.0 release a “Pre-Release” because, while it has been tested internally, it is not yet in use by any of our partners or customers.

If you have any questions or run into any problems, please post your questions to our Forum.


Managing Ejected Tapes in BlackPearl

BlackPearl is an object storage gateway to Spectra’s archive disk and tape library products. Tape libraries have a unique feature not typically available in disk systems – the tapes can be ejected and removed from the tape library. This removal can allow for additional data protection by taking the tapes offsite, and it can also facilitate sharing of the data via physical transport. But once ejected and removed, the data on the tape can no longer be accessed by the tape library.

When a BlackPearl client requests data to be restored from BlackPearl, it is possible that the only copy of the data resides on tape(s) that have been ejected from the library. BlackPearl clients should be designed to handle this ejected tape scenario. Handling the ejected tape scenario is a requirement to pass Spectra certification.

BlackPearl Response to Data on Ejected Tape

When a client attempts to restore data from BlackPearl, it first issues a Create Bulk Get API command to BlackPearl. This command is used by the client to let BlackPearl know which files it wants to retrieve. If any of these files are only available on ejected tape(s), then BlackPearl’s raw API response will be as follows:

If the BlackPearl client is using one of our Software Development Kits (SDKs), which themselves call the Create Bulk Get API command, the SDK will throw an exception in this scenario. Here is the exception thrown by the Java SDK when requested files are only on ejected tapes:

Properly Handling Requests for Data on Ejected Tapes

You can see that in both responses above, BlackPearl indicates that one or more needed tapes are outside of the tape library and provides the barcode label(s) of the tape(s) that have been ejected in brackets. In the example above, the barcode label of the ejected tape is TEST079L7 . In most cases, simply displaying this message to the user should be adequate for the user to use the barcode label to go find the tapes and place them back in the tape library. The user can then try their restore request again and BlackPearl should be able to service it.

In some cases, the user may need more information about the tapes than just the barcode label. Tapes also have other ejection information associated with them, such as Eject Label and Eject Location, that users may need to find the tape. In that case, clients can register to receive a job failure notification. A job is what BlackPearl attempts to create when the Create Bulk Get command above is called. A notification is a message that BlackPearl sends to the client application. If the Create Bulk Get command can’t be serviced because a needed tape is outside of the library, then the job creation fails. BlackPearl clients can register to receive Job Creation Failed Notifications. These notifications includes detailed information about the ejected tapes that are needed to service the file restore request, including the Eject Label and Eject Location.

If a BlackPearl client wants to take a more proactive approach, the client can provide users with a means of checking to see if tapes are ejected before attempting a file restore. The Get Physical Placement API call, and its associated SDK calls, can be used to check the placement of a file or list of files. The Get Physical Placement response will include a list of specific locations where the files are located, whether that location is on disk, tape, or another BlackPearl. If the files are located on tape, the response will include the tape barcode labels and whether or not the tapes are ejected from the library. If the tapes are ejected, additional ejection information will be provided, including the Eject Label and Eject Location.

Message from BlackPearl Web Interface About Ejected Tapes

The BlackPearl web management interface includes a Messages page (Status > Messages) for viewing system event messages. Users can also set up their BlackPearl user account to receive these messages via email.

If a BlackPearl client attempts to restore files that are only available on ejected tapes, a warning message will be added to the Messages page. The message will indicate that a GET request was attempted but couldn’t be serviced because it requires tapes that are ejected from the library. The message will also include the barcode label, Eject Label, and Eject Location of all required ejected tapes. While these messages can be useful to the user, BlackPearl clients shouldn’t depend on the user having to access this Messages page to learn about the ejected tapes.

Conclusion

Developers should ensure that their BlackPearl client applications properly handle requests for data on ejected tapes. There are several methods available to address this scenario. Please Contact the Developer Team if you have any questions about managing ejected tapes.