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.


BlackPearl Eon Browser 2.1 Official Release

BlackPearl Eon Browser 2.1 has been officially released. The official release version is 2.1.6. There are many new features and bug fixes since the prior 2.0 release. We recommend users upgrade to 2.1.6 at their earliest convenience. You can get this release on our Downloads page. Contact the Developer Program Team if you have any questions or run into any problems.


Eon Browser 2.1 Beta Available for Testing

We have released a beta of the next version of the Eon Browser, version 2.1.4. You can download the Eon Browser beta on GitHub. A draft version of the new User Guide is also available. Note that this version should not be used in a production environment and will not be supported by Spectra Support. You can submit feedback via GitHub or by Contacting Us. We look forward to receiving your feedback.

 

 


BlackPearl SDK for Go is Now Available

Spectra Logic provides software development kits (SDKs) to make it easier to create applications that integrate with BlackPearl. We are pleased to announce that now we have an SDK for the Go programming language to simplify and accelerate BlackPearl client application development. In addition to Go, we currently support SDKs for Java, C#/.NET, C and Python. You can download the Go SDK and view the Go SDK documentation. This is a new language release, so please send us any feedback you might have on this SDK.


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.


Getting Started with BlackPearl Partial File Restore Integration

In ​the Media & Entertainment world​, data files have reached very large sizes,​ particularly in cases of high resolution video ​that can exceed the one terabyte in size. In order to efficiently work with very large files, the media file processing is done in sections, with​ the end-user requesting content “snippets” based on timecodes. Object storage devices​​ that are used to store very large files are typically not aware of the timecode-to-byte relationship, and have no content awareness that’s necessary to extract and create partial media files.  In order to bridge the gap between time and bytes, BlackPearl has added a Partial File Restore (PFR) feature to enable the media processing application to efficiently retrieve a complete media file based on timecode offsets.

In​​ a typical Media Asset Management (MAM)/BlackPearl environment, the architecture would involve the following elements:

--        MAM – provides end user interface

--        BlackPearl MAM Plugin – handles all interactions between BlackPearl and MAM

--        BlackPearl – object storage

--        PFR Server – provides PFR processing services

--        NAS – network storage – permanent storage location for index files, temporary storage location for file processing

 

In the BlackPearl environment, there are two parts to the PFR processing of media files. The first part involves creating the media-aware index file for timecode/byte-offset information during file storage (writing) process. The second part of the process involves recalling a range of bytes that are based on a specified timecode, and creating complete, a self-contained media file that contains only the requested frames. In order to make this integration efficient, the PFR Server has a defined set of services that can be called by the media application using a REST interface (in this architecture – via the BlackPearl plugin).

The interface supports three basic request calls and two status calls to monitor the progress of the requested execution:

--        Request File Indexing
--        Request File Indexing Status
--        Request File Byte Offsets
--        Request Partial File Creation
--        Request Partial File Creation Status

For storing the file, the typical flow of execution would be:

  1. Copy media file to NAS storage
  2. Request creation of media index file
  3. Monitor status for completion
  4. Write file to BlackPearl Storage

For retrieving the partial file, the flow of execution would be:

  1. Request File Byte Offsets based on timecode
  2. Read specified byte range from BlackPearl to NAS
  3. Request partial file creation
  4. Monitor file creation status
  5. Supply partial file to Media Application

Spectra’s development team has created an C# and Java SDKs to support the rapid development and integration of the PFR with BlackPearl Storage into existing M&E environments. The SDKs provide “wrapper” calls for the REST API calls. The C# and Java client documentation and code samples can be found at:

https://github.com/SpectraLogic/tpfr_client

https://github.com/SpectraLogic/tpfr_java_client

PFR Users Guide provides the list of supported video file formats.

Quick Start Guide is a required reading to understand the services and locations that have to be setup in order to start PFR development.

PFR REST API definition is available for direct HTML development.

If you are considering creating a PFR integration with a BlackPearl environment, please contact the Spectra Logic Developer Program Team.


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.


Minimizing Changes to the BlackPearl API

Spectra Logic’s BlackPearl is a gateway to our deep storage that uses an Application Programming Interface (API) for archive and restore operations. This API is used by our partners to integrate their software with BlackPearl. With the success of BlackPearl, the list of partner software clients is growing quickly. With the larger list comes a very important question: what should Spectra do to keep changes in BlackPearl code from affecting partner integrations? Retesting every release of BlackPearl code with every client version is obviously not feasible. Instead, Spectra Logic has chosen to tightly control and minimize API changes to prevent problems with partner integrations. To achieve this, we have established an API change review process that involves all stakeholders within the Spectra organization, as well as external partners and customers.

The release process:

-- Requires that every type of proposed change to an existing API call has a sponsor and is logged in the engineering feature tracking system.

-- The proposed change has to be reviewed and approved by both Spectra’s Engineering and Product Management departments before it becomes scheduled for development.

-- Even when approved, any changes to API with potential to affect partners and customers have to be scheduled with sufficient lead time to allow proper communications to and changes by all stakeholders, including customers, partners, and Spectra Logic.

-- Finally, the process restricts API changes which affect backward compatibility with existing clients to major releases of BlackPearl code (e.g. version 3.x to version 4.x), unless the change is deemed critical by the directors of both Engineering and Product Management departments.

-- New XML response elements and attributes are permitted, as they should be ignored by clients not taking advantage of a new response element. This behavior allows existing older clients to keep functioning with newer versions of API.

 

With all the controls built into the process, Spectra Logic aims to assure a stable and consistent API for interfacing with BlackPearl. At the same time, the process provides a means to expand the API to meet the needs of end users and support new applications and markets as they develop in the future.


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