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Should we use TSM and LTO-1 in an AIX environment?

Is the utilization of TSM and LTO-1 in a large, primarily AIX, environment the right thing for us? We are seeing a very high failure rate for both tapes and drives. Is there a better solution? TSM does a lot of read and writes, especially with tape reclaimation processes it utilizes. Is there a more appropriate tape medium?
The combination of AIX, TSM and LTO-1 tape technology has a pretty widespread installed base on the market, so to answer the first part of your question: I would have to say yes, it is the right solution from a software perspective. In my opinion, a backup solution is only the wrong solution when it does not meet your business requirements.

Now for the second part of your question: While it is true that TSM does mount tapes volumes for reclamation purposes, it only does so once per tape cycle. That is, when a certain percentage of data has expired on a given tape, the remaining data is moved to another tape. So technically, one could argue that tapes are mounted potentially twice as often with TSM. However, LTO-1 media is rated at 5000 loads, unloads and initializations. LTO-1 drives have a Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) rated 250,000 hours at a 100% duty cycle. As I mentioned in a previous reply to a reader, these ratings must be taken "with a grain of salt." In any case, TSM's reclamation process should not cause the drives or media to fail at a rate noticeably faster than other software solutions.

Without knowing any specific details about your implementation, the issues you are experiencing seem to point to a hardware problem. Possible causes for premature failure can include: Faulty media, inappropriate media handling, environmental conditions (heat, moisture, dust), etc. Given the cost of a new tape subsystem, replacing the hardware should be considered only when all other options have failed (including putting some pressure on the hardware vendor).

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