Users of the latest generation of Super DLT tape drives should now be able to use Super DLTtape II cartridges as write-once-read-many (WORM) media, which may be a real boon to those struggling to comply with an onslaught of federal regulations.
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Called DLTIce, Quantum Corp. claims this is the first WORM tape technology that uses standard drives and media, and comes at no additional cost. DLTIce is not, however, the first WORM tape. In the mainframe space, both StorageTek Corp. and IBM offer WORM tape products: StorageTek with its VolSafe option for its 9840 and 9940 tape drives, and IBM with its 3592 WORM media.
On the open systems side of things, Sony Corp. offers WORM for its AIT-3 and S-AIT media. And it's rumored that the LTO Consortium will include WORM capabilities in its next version, LTO-3, but that's not due out until later this year.
To begin writing WORM tapes, anyone already using SDLT 600 tape technology can simply upgrade their tape drive firmware. Going forward, SDLT 600 drives will ship with the DLTIce feature pre-installed. DLTIce media, meanwhile, is any old Super DLTtape II media cartridge that has been "iced." This means it has been designated as WORM, either by a third-party backup application, or through Quantum's management tool, DLTSage.
At press time, backup applications supporting DLTIce include: Veritas Software Corp. NetBackup 4.5 and 5.0; Computer Associates International Corp. BrightStor EB 10.0.1, CA ARCserve for Linux/Netware 9.1 and Windows 11.0; EMC Corp's Legato Networker 7.2; and Yosemite Technologies Inc. Tapeware 7.0. Over the next few months, Quantum expects to qualify IBM's Tivoli Systems Inc. Storage Manager 5.2.2, CommVault Systems Inc. Galaxy 5.0 and Arkeia Corp. Enterprise Backup 5.3.
Peter Gerr, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass., said that DLTIce is "a good way to add WORM into an environment without having to add equipment or affect existing processes." He added that Quantum still needs to do a lot of work to educate its users and get support for the technology outside of the backup software space, for example, from e-mail and instant message archive software vendors.
Another interesting feature of DLTIce cartridges is that they are reusable -- both as WORM media, or again as a vanilla SDLT cartridge. The thought of being able to reuse a WORM cartridge may seem strange at first, but when you compare it to disk-based archive systems like EMC Corp.'s Centera or Network Appliance Inc.'s SnapLock, it doesn't seem so strange, Gerr said. "Operationally, certain records have specified retention periods," he said. "After that retention period passes, organizations absolutely have a right to reuse that media."
Reusing a DLTIce cartridge involves a process called degaussing -- basically putting the cartridge on a giant magnet, which erases all the information on the tape, explains Steve Berens, Quantum senior director of product marketing and strategy. Because SDLT media firmware is stored optically, it is possible to do this; degaussing competitive WORM tape media renders the cartridge totally unusable, he said.
Technology aside, perhaps Quantum's biggest challenge with respect to DLTIce is market acceptance of its SDLT 600 drive, which has thus far failed to take off. "There's been a less than stellar uptake of SDLT 600," Gerr said. But, he adds, "that's not indicative of the technology, but rather the whole economic climate -- all the vendors are coming up short on their predictions." So far, vendors shipping SDLT 600 include Overland Storage Inc., Tandberg Data Corp., and of course, Quantum.