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Automating tape library management

By Linda Gail Christie

"In 1999 the cost of computers going off-line because of storage problems was $20 billion," said Richard Brechtlein, president and CEO of Shugart Technology, a developer of storage testing tools. "With such incredible amounts of money at stake, companies need a complete set of storage management tools to quickly find out what's wrong and make adjustments."

"Current test methods that tackle performance issues from a higher level of the topology are far more complex than they need to be," Brechtlein continued. "What's needed are uncomplicated, fully automated tools that everyone from IT managers, to lab engineers, to field service technicians can use to quickly isolate and troubleshoot I/O problems at the physical interface level-- performance, stress, and interoperability testing, as well as design verification."

To that end, Shugart Technology has released SCSIcalc and FIBREcalc, the first of 18 performance testing and management products to be introduced this year to address the needs of heterogeneous network environments. "Our tools are designed to empower administrators to troubleshoot storage performance problems on their own, rather than having to wait for field service personnel and vendors to arrive," said Ed Barnes, Shugart Technology CTO and VP of Engineering. "For example, with our tools, if a tape gets stuck in a drive, you don't have to be a Legato or Veritas programmer to get the job done. Instead of having to deal with proprietary RS-232 interfaces or manual buttons on a front panel, you can issue commands from your central console to rewind the cassette and then eject it."

According to Barnes, Shugart Technology's tools also automate a number of other time-consuming jobs. "Normally, testing the load port to see if you can get tapes in and out of the fire safe takes a long time," Barnes said. "With FIBREcalc's intuitive, calculator-like interface, you can automate all of the tedious button-pushing. Diagnostic scripts also can be written to test that the robot can grab every cartridge in your tape library--after your firmware has been updated, for example."

Cenralizaed storage management software tools, such as those developed by Shugart Technology, are being eagerly awaited by today's storage administrator. Via a centralized console and user-friendly interface, they claim to offer the following benefits: relieving otherwise "decentralized" storage management burdens, improving system performance, and increasing system availability.

Additional resources:

  • For more information on Shurgart Technology, see their Web site:
  • For more advice on tools and methods to monitor performance of network and edge devices, see the recent transcript from our Expert Live Q&A with Dan Nassar, author of "Network Performance Baselining", available under the "Chat Archives" heading at:
  • If you don't mind filling out an initial form on their Web site, you can also see a free report from the Barnstable, Mass.-based Newport Group entitled, "Performance Management and Monitoring Dynamics." This is available at under the "Free Reports" link.

Storage management tips are written by Linda Gail Christie, a contributing editor based in Tulsa, Okla.

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