New role for tape libraries


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Partitions may include as few or as many tape slots as the administrator defines, but tape libraries differ significantly in how they deliver and license tape slots. Sun Microsystems Inc.'s StorageTek L1400M ships with all of the slots installed in the frame; Sun then sells customers access to the slots. The L1400M's default capacity of 200 slots is included in the base price of the library. Additional slots can be purchased in 100-slot increments, with a software key granting access to the slots. Spectra Logic's Spectra T950 library similarly delivers all of the tape slots in a single frame, but allows users to license additional slots in increments of 10.

Quantum uses an alternative approach with its Scalar i500. The Scalar i500 is available in three base configurations: 5U (control module with 36 slots), 14U (36, 82 or 128 slots) and 23U (82, 128, 174 or 220 slots). It's then physically scaled by adding 9U expansion modules above or below the base system, with all modules served by a single, continuous robotics system that eliminates the need for pass-through ports or elevator systems. Additional slots may be activated in 46-slot increments using a software license key.

Midrange tape libraries' support for virtual tape

Hewlett-Packard EML E-Series and ESL E-Series integrate with disk-based HP StorageWorks

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6000 Virtual Library Systems.

Overland Storage NEO 8000 integrates with its REO 9100 VTL.

Quantum Scalar i500 integrates with Quantum's Pathlight VX 450 and Pathlight VX 650 disk-based backup systems.

Spectra Logic Spectra T950 offers native virtual tape support, presenting an LTO image.

Sun StorageTek L700e provides virtual tape support with Virtual Storage Manager Open.

Spectra Logic is the only vendor to mix disk and tape in its midrange library. The Spectra T950 library uses Spectra Logic's proprietary RXT SabreDrive and SabreMedia disk drives, which have the same physical shape as an LTO tape drive and tape, and present an LTO image to backup apps. The SabreDrive uses an internal RAID controller to write to the SabreMedia module, which holds multiple SATA disks. SabreMedia offers the same portability as tape; users can specify the RAID level of the media when they order it. This approach also circumvents the issues with the bar codes normally associated with disk. The SabreMedia cartridge lets the tape library assign a bar code to it and treat it as any other tape cartridge.

This was first published in September 2007

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