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LTO-4, the latest iteration of the LTO tape format, was unexpectedly quiet at the time of this writing. Few products have actually started shipping in volume.

"IBM [Corp.] has been shipping products for a few months and HP [Hewlett-Packard Co.] recently started shipping products, but the LTO-4 products have been slow in coming," notes Greg Farris, director of marketing at CipherMax Inc., which provides an appliance to assist with the migration of LTO-3 to LTO-4 and, as of late 2007, was still waiting for the LTO-4 market to ramp up.

But given the frequency with which data tapes seem to fall off delivery trucks, and the proliferation of laws like California's SB 1386, which requires public disclosure when unencrypted private data is potentially exposed, companies have little choice but to adopt tape encryption. LTO-4, which provides built-in AES encryption, is the most likely candidate for the job, although key management is still a work in progress.

"Encryption is the only reason to go with LTO-4," says W. Curtis Preston, VP of data protection at GlassHouse Technologies Inc., a consulting firm in Framingham, MA. LTO-4 also doubles capacity to 800GB and boosts the data transfer rate to 120MB/sec, but those are secondary reasons compared to the encryption imperative.

Still, it was speed and capacity that led Patillo

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Construction, Stone Mountain, GA, to urgently seek a new LTO-4 device from HP. "We have a very tight overnight backup window and were running out of time," says Buzz Kaas, director of information technology at the design engineering and construction company. With HP's StorageWorks LTO-4 Ultrium 1840 Tape Drive, Patillo Construction can now back up 500GB of data in two hours, which fits into its backup window.

This was first published in December 2007

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