New role for tape libraries


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Partitioning makes chargebacks easier, too, with each user or department paying only for the tape drives, cartridges and slots they use even though they're all housed in the same physical tape library. Partitions let departments control how their tape library resources are used, and keep their data logically and physically separate from other departments' data. IBM Corp.'s TS3310, Qualstar Corp.'s TLS series and Sony Electronics Inc.'s CSM200 are other examples of libraries that include partitioning as a standard feature.

Tighter integration with virtual tape and support for mixed tape media are other ways tape vendors are trying to make their products easier to use and indispensable for long-term archiving. And with the advent of LTO-4 drives and tapes, data encryption can take place within the tape library, which some analysts say, for performance reasons, is the best place for encryption to take place..

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Click here for an overview Midrange Tape Libraries with capacities ranging from one tape drive and 100 tape slots to a maximum of 24 tape drives and 1,000 tape slots (PDF).

Partitions and scaling
Responding to requirements such as tape library consolidation, ease of expansion, uncomplicated cost allocation and support for different backup apps, nearly every tape library vendor offers partitioning.

While there's no magic formula for determining how many partitions an administrator should create within a library, less is usually better. For instance, Qualstar recommends users keep its TLS series libraries in a single library configuration for a single host running a library-specific backup app. When multiple hosts are present, and each needs to run its own library-specific backup app, Qualstar suggests subdividing the TLS into as many as four smaller logical libraries.

Tape libraries vary in how they implement, scale and license partitioning. For all libraries, each partition must include at least one tape drive, and each tape drive may only be a member of one partition. Tape libraries like IBM's TS3310 support a partition for each tape drive in the library, up to its maximum of six tape drives. Others, like Quantum's PX720, offer more tape drives (20) than partitions (six), which gives users more flexibility to mix and match multiple tape drives and slots within a partition. Overland Storage Inc.'s NEO 8000 only permits a second partition if another partition controller card is added to the unit.

This was first published in September 2007

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