IBM and LTO
LTO has been one of the big industry drivers. According to Abrahams, LTO libraries accounted for 51 percent of total library revenue in 2004. That number is expected to rise to 58 percent by the end of the decade. And IBM has been front and center in the LTO push.
During the course of 2005, IBM announced support for LTO3 in its midrange tape libraries. The 3584 Tape Library, for example, has up to 192 drives and more than 6,000 slots. Bruce Master, senior program manager, Worldwide Tape Product Marketing at IBM, says that the company also has a high availability option for the 3584 that includes dual active robotic accessors for enhanced reliability and increased performance.
The TS1120 Enterprise Tape Drive has a dual-port 4-Gbps Fibre Channel interface for a Fibre Channel attachment to host systems or a switched fabric environment, as well as 4 Gbps FICON or ESCON attachments to mainframes. It has a data rate of up to 100 MB/sec and can store up to 1.5 TB on a single cartridge.
The IBM Virtualization Engine TS7510 is meant to improve the utilization of tape resources. In a dual-node configuration, a TS7510 can support up to 128 virtual tape libraries, 1,024 virtual tape drives, 8,192 virtual cartridges, and 46 TB of user storage.
Lower down on the product ladder is the TS3310 Tape Library. It can support up to six LTO3 tape drives and up to 128 slots for more than 102 TB of storage
Like the vendors covered above, Sony sees tape evolving into a position as the final tier in compliance archives. D2D2Tape solutions, in particular, are expected to become far more commonplace.
Tape libraries are growing in importance, driven by fixed content and e-mail compliance requirements, greater digitization, and the increasing importance of rich media, such as video, IP telephony, and security archives,” says Brett Schechter, senior manager for tape storage solutions in Sony Electronics’ component solutions business division. “Tape libraries are seeing much tighter integration with disk front ends.”
The company is gearing up for the midrange battle — i.e. the 30 to 100 slot sector. Schechter believes most of these libraries will be soon equipped with 10 TB or more of capacity, at a sub-$10,000 price point. Sony’s LIB-162, for example, is the only 2U library capable of supporting one or two drives for speed and redundancy. It has 3.2 TB in a small box
On the high end, Sony just launched is first Super Advanced Intelligent Tape (SAIT) based minilibrary, the 5U CSM-20. This box offers 20 slots, one or two SAIT drives, and 10 TB capacity.
Far from being a dead technology, tape is thriving in the 21st century. D2D may be more hip, but tape libraries continue to be the workhorse of heavy-duty storage and backup. Eventually, as D2D matures it may exert more impact over tape.
“We may eventually see smaller libraries, as it is no longer the case that everything is going to tape,” says Gartner’s Yale. “But there is so much data these days that there is room for both tape and disk to grow.”