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Vol. 4 No. 2 April 2005

Disk finally outruns tape

Even the largest, processing-intensive mainframe shops are slowly but surely weaning themselves off tape. Four years ago, First Data Corp. (FDC), the credit-card processing behemoth, had as many as 1,500 tape drives across 70 StorageTek robots in its Omaha, NE, and Chandler, AZ, facilities. Those tapes weren't used for backup, but as the "batch workhorse," storing primary data used to process daily credit-card transactions for FDC's banking customers, says Todd Cushing, FDC's VP, data center management and service operations. Today, the number of tape drives at those facilities is down to 500 with seven robots, and FDC hopes to pare those numbers again by about half. If it's taken a while to break the tape habit, it's because for a long time, FDC couldn't get disk to go faster than tape. More to the point, ESCON--the channel connection between the mainframe and the disk or tape library--didn't go fast enough. ESCON can transmit data at a maximum of 19MB/sec "if you're going downhill and have a good tail wind," says Steve ...

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Columns in this issue