Tape Automation for the Masses

For most IT shops, backup still happens the old-fashioned way: from the host to a direct-attached standalone tape drive.

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Forget serverless backup; forget NDMP. Forget all those fancy-shmancy backup schemes. For most IT shops, backup still happens the old-fashioned way: from the host to a direct-attached standalone tape drive.

Increasingly, though, the price for low-end backup devices is putting automation within reach of smaller shops.

Take for example, the new LIB-81 StorStation from Sony: equipped with a single AIT drive and up to eight cartridges, the 1U device holds up to 2.08TB, and has data transfer rates of up to 112.3GB, starting at $4,500.

Today's small libraries can provide over a week's worth of unattended backup, says Fara Yale, chief analyst at Gartner's computer storage service, and should "pique the interest of many companies looking to upgrade from a standalone storage solution."

In a similar vein, Quantum has its new SuperLoader, a 2U deal that comes with either an SDLT or DLT1 drive. Both models come with either eight or 16 cartridges. Entry price for the DLT1 model is $4,999; the SDLT model starts at $6,500. Compaq also resells the DLT1 model.

But what matters most of all in the small to midsize backup market is ease-of-use, says John Pearring, president of STORServer Systems, which manufactures the S10000 Backup Appliance, an all-in-one backup server, backup software and tape library solution that starts at $19,900.

The notion of a backup appliance was born out of the company's experience installing Tivoli Storage Manger. "What became apparent was that customers really needed a backup solution that was easier to install," says Pearring.

This was first published in June 2002

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