IBM adds Linear Tape File System support, larger drives to tape libraries

IBM becomes the first vendor to add Linear Tape File System (LTFS) support for tape libraries, and expands its TS3550 library to 2.7 exabytes of compressed data capacity.

IBM Corp. today made enhancements across its data protection portfolio, adding Linear Tape File System (LTFS) support to tape libraries, a 4 TB TS1140 tape drive and a new shuttle technology that lets the TS3500 library scale to 2.7 exabytes of compressed data.

IBM also improved its mainframe and open-systems virtual tape library (VTL) products, and tweaked its data protection features in its Scale Out Network Attached Storage (SONAS) and IBM Information Archive systems.

An early step for Linear Tape File System

IBM has implemented the Linear Tape File System into its all of its LTO libraries, providing file system access to data stored on those libraries. IBM is also the first vendor to support LTFS in libraries, not surprising because IBM invented the technology. IBM is making LTFS available to other vendors, and you can expect to see more LTFS announcements to follow. IBM supports LTFS on the new TS1140 drives standalone, and in libraries.

Linear Tape File System uses LTO-5’s partitioning capability to store a self-contained hierarchical file system index for the contents of the tape into one of its partitions. LTFS will be used to manage large archives. It reads the metadata on the cartridge and allows administrators to read and recover the data via a directory or tree structure within a cache in the library.

LTFS makes tape cartridges look like thumb drives,” said Sanjay Tripathi, IBM’s director of data protection and retention. “The metadata is on the cache and LTFS is formatted to partition the data so you can read the file, the name of the user, and so on. You can understand what data is on what cartridge on any size library. We cache the metadata for ease of search. You can always share data across boundaries.”

Denser drives, larger tape libraries

IBM expanded the maximum capacity of its TS3500 by going from 1 TB to 4 TB, and adding a Tape Library Shuttle Connecter that connects up to 15 tape library frames into one.

The TS3500 has 225,000 slots for 900 PB of uncompressed data when filled with TS1140 drives. IBM calculates a 3-to-1 compression ratio to get to the 2.7 exabyte figure. The TS3500 competes with the Oracle SL8500 among enterprise tape libraries. The SL8500 scales to 1 exabyte of compressed data with 100,000 tape slots.

The Clipper Group’s senior contributing analyst Dave Reine said the enhancements make the TS3500 “the largest of any library, period. With the connector, you can put multiple frames together to form one library with multiple strings. The shuttle connector also allows you to bring cartridges from one high-density frame to another high-density frame that is not in the same string. You only need a shuttle connector between strings of frames.”

Virtual tape library upgrades

IBM made its first system upgrade in five years to its Virtualization Engine TS7700 mainframe disk-based family, which comprises the TS7720 disk-based system and the TS7740 disk- and tape-based system. The TS7700 now stores two million virtual tapes, double the capacity of the previous version. IBM upgraded from Power 6 to Power 7 processors, speeding the system’s throughput to 900 MBps from 600 MBps.

IBM also added secure multi-tenancy to better partition data among departments and organizations to the TS7700.  

IBM added many-to-many replication to its TS7650 ProtectTier Deduplication open-system VTL based on its 2008 acquisition of Diligent Technologies.

IBM also increased the bandwidth of SONAS to 54 GBps with 30 interface nodes and added support for the NDMP open-standard protocol, enabling SONAS backups with data backup software that support NDMP.

The IBM Information Archive for email, files and e-discovery adds better policy management for indexing and search capabilities while also integrating Microsoft Outlook and Exchange.

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