Top tape libraries revealed

Product features
The most important features of tape libraries are related to flexibility of configuration and usability. In our survey, we asked users about their experience with the user interface, tape insert/eject and scalability. In this category, Ad vanced Digital Information Corp.'s ( ADIC's) Scalar i2000/10K bested StorageTek's SL-Series (which was fourth with a score of 6.50) as the highest rated enterprise product. ADIC's 6.69 rating was the highest among all products, both midrange and enterprise, for this section (see "Features ranking," this page). In fact, this score was the highest of any section score among enterprise products.

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Spectra Logic's 10K/20K/T50 scored a 6.60 to lead the midrange library pack.

Library upgrades frequently involve time-consuming and difficult "box swaps." Manufacturers have spent considerable engineering effort to improve scalability. The highest rated products in this aspect were ADIC's Scalar i2000/10K (7.04) in the enterprise class, and Spectra Logic's 10K/20K/T50 (6.57) among the midrange products. For the statement "Overall, this product meets my needs," ADIC's Scalar i2000/10K led all products with a 6.96. Manufacturers also devote significant resources to improving tape libraries' user interfaces with touch screens, color and other usability features. In response to the statement, "I like this product's user interface," ADIC's Scalar i2000/10K again nabbed the overall high score with a 6. 58; on the mid range side, Spectra Logic nearly matched that score with a 6.57.

Health Net's Holt says a tape library 's user interface is an important feature that can ease--or frustrate--system management. With both Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co.'s Enterprise Systems Library (ESL) and StorageTek's SL-Series libraries installed, Holt favors the SL's interface. "The StorageTek library is controlled by a separate server that has a full-blown interface a user can access, instead of just a front-panel control that's available on our HP libraries," he notes.

Tape libraries that can cost-effectively scale to meet growing data demands also receive high marks. Although generally satisfied with the Overland NEOs he has, Sybase's Bembenek cited some difficulties with scaling. "The design wasn't very modular where you could just keep adding tape drives on top of each other," says Bembenek. The company recently evaluated Overland's disk-based REO backup appliance, which addresses some of its scalability issues.

This was first published in January 2006

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