New role for tape libraries


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With disk systems taking on a more prominent role for backup operations, tape libraries are adding new features to become the medium of choice for long-term archiving.

Consolidations, centralized protection of remote-office data and longer data retention rates--coupled with 50% year-over-year data growth--are forcing organizations to use tape libraries in new or expanded roles. Tape library vendors are adding new features to their products to remain relevant in this era of cheap disk, where disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T) and virtual tape libraries (VTLs) are taking on larger backup and recovery roles.

A maturing class of midrange tape libraries (see "

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What's a 'midrange' tape library?") fills the gap between auto tape-drive loaders and high-end tape libraries that support hundreds of tape drives and thousands of tapes. These new midrange tape libraries allow organizations to either consolidate multiple auto tape loaders or to start small and scale to accommodate growth.

Features found in this class of tape libraries include:

  • Partitioning
  • One-frame configurations with support for up to 24 tape drives and 1,000 tape slots
  • Various licensing options to accommodate additional tape slots
  • Support for multiple tape media types
The adoption of low-cost disk hasn't signaled the demise of tape libraries, as many industry watchers predicted. Though disk in its various forms--disk volumes, disk cache and VTLs--is becoming the primary target for backing up data and the initial source for data recoveries, tape still often serves as the final resting place for corporate data. With unlimited capacity, low cost per gigabyte and portability, tape remains the preferred method for long-term data storage. But as organizations consolidate and share storage resources like tape libraries, business units tend to want to pay only for their portion of total tape library costs while retaining control of the data and tapes on which it resides.

Quantum Corp.'s Scalar i500 (originally from ADIC, which is now owned by Quantum) reflects how one vendor is responding to new user demands. The Scalar i500 scales from one to 18 LTO drives and 36 to 404 tape slots in a single frame, and includes partitioning as a default feature. Partitioning lets departments control specific physical resources within the i500 and treat them as if they were a separate tape library.

This was first published in September 2007

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