Our survey of tape library users yielded 554 product evaluations from 383 respondents. Although StorageTek predictably had the largest number of responses, total responses were well distributed across all major manufacturers and consistent with market share (see "Products included in our survey".).
Tape libraries are commonly sold through channels, and 57% of systems were purchased from a VAR--the highest percentage we've seen to date. "We work with a third-party, and the VAR has been instrumental," says Michael Bembenek, director of IT in the infrastructure program management group at Dublin, CA based Sybase Inc. "We employ them to keep track of the records and to expedite meetings with Overland [Storage Inc.]"
The majority of responses to this survey fell between 5.2 and 6.5, a broader range than in previous surveys (see "About the survey".). We were impressed by this relatively high norm. Tape libraries are mechanical devices that one might expect to break more frequently than all-electronic systems, and we therefore expected lower overall scores. Moreover, this range was significantly higher than another key component of data protection-- backup and recovery (B/R) software. With backup generally regarded as the most error-prone and troublesome component of storage environments, software and media apparently bear the brunt of the blame, while tape libraries aren't considered a significant source of most problems. Users accept that a certain level of maintenance will be required for these devices, so perhaps their expectations are adjusted accordingly. "We work them pretty hard and they break occasionally, but they're mechanical devices," notes Dan Sitler, lead software programmer at Hobart Corp., Troy, OH.
This was first published in January 2006