Top tape libraries revealed

Our product reliability section focuses on ongoing operations (see Reliability ranking). In our disk array surveys, patch application issues caused the most

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dissatisfaction among respondents. This was also true for tape libraries. Of the 16 product finalists in our survey, only three scored a 6.0 or higher for the statement "Patches/updates can be applied to this product non-disruptively." StorageTek's SL-Series and Sun's StorEdge L500/L700/L8500 systems (identical products), each managed to score 6.0 for this statement among enterprise systems. Spectra Logic's 10K/20K/T50 midrange products scored best with a 6. 3 6. All other products were below 6.0, with Sony libraries (4.96) and Quantum Corp.'s M-Series ( 4.91) bringing up the rear in their respective enterprise and midrange categories.

Failed backups not only make maintaining storage significantly more difficult, they also place data at risk. Therefore, we asked users to respond to the statement "This product is rarely the cause of backup failure." Here again, StorageTek's SL-Series enterprise products (6.36) and Spectra Logic's midrange 10K/20K/ T50 products (6.43) distinguished themselves among otherwise disappointing scores; no other product scored above 6.0.

Error handling is an important aspect of maintaining a tape library, as well as a measurement of product reliability. Though happy with his IBM 3583 library, Hobart's Sitler would appreciate some improvements in its error-notification functions. "I would have it e-mail when it had an error rather than just put something onscreen," he says. Sitler uses Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) with his 358 3, but notes that "a lot of times there are lower level errors before TSM notices and it would be nice to hear about those."

Technical support
In previous surveys, technical support wasn't a significant differentiator among vendors. For tape libraries, however, there was a wider range of scores suggesting that technical support may be a factor in vendor selection (see "Technical support ranking," at right). Eight support-related statements were included in the survey.

This was first published in January 2006

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