SD2003: Creating RFPs for Tape Libraries

If you have been in technology a long time, old concepts repackaged as new solutions are nothing new to you. According to Dianne McAdam, senior analyst and partner of Data Mobility Group, this is one way to think about the use of tape technology in today's enterprise storage architectures. McAdam conducted a workshop recently at Storage Decisions 2003 where she covered the key elements involved in developing effective requests for proposal (RFPs) for tape-related technologies.

McAdam maintained that the old concept of tape just so happens to be a major component of a new term, Information Lifecycle Management (ILM, that is currently making the rounds in enterprise storage. She also commented that ILM itself could be equated to the old concept of space management. When thinking about how tape should be used today, she urged attendees to think of tape as another way to aid in space management.

To illustrate her point, she said, "It makes no sense to keep a 7-year-old e-mail on expensive disk."

Once you establish where tape is best suited in your overall infrastructure, she said that you could then begin to develop an RFP process for your tape vendors. Like many of the other conference speakers who advised on the best ways to develop RFPs, McAdam stressed the importance of first understanding the needs of your environment. This will help you define the more specific RFP requirements, such as sizing of your tape infrastructure and the types of libraries

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or drives you might need.

McAdam also pointed out a few questions you should be able to answer before selecting a tape cartridge. Is the cartridge backward compatible? Can you read old tapes with the new drive? These are just a few functionality questions you should get answered from the vendor before making a purchase decision.

McAdam's workshop also explored some common mistakes in the RFP process, such as:

  • Not giving the vendor enough time to respond to a request
  • Underestimating the growth of your environment
  • Neglecting to build in the conversion costs from old to new media
  • Neglecting to specify any software you may also need to manage the tape system

    Presentation slides and other links to the full session proceedings are available here.

    About the speaker: Dianne McAdam is Senior Analyst and Partner of Data Mobility Group. With more than three decades of experience in information technology, Ms. McAdam is responsible for leading Data Mobility Group's research and advisory services on topics such as replication technology, business continuance, and networked storage. Prior to joining Data Mobility Group Ms. McAdam was at Illuminata, where she led the Information Logistics practice.

    This was first published in September 2003

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