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Spectra Logic releases 3.6 exabyte T-Finity enterprise tape library

Todd Erickson

Spectra Logic Corporation today released the ExaScale T-Finity enterprise tape library; a high capacity storage system the company said is capable of storing more than 3.6 exabytes of data with up to 400,000 tape slots. Spectra also

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introduced new management software and features that the company said will increase performance and the useful lifespan of tapes.

Spectra’s ExaScale T-Finity tape library supports LTO and IBM TS1140 tape drives. A new T-Finity complex can scale to eight libraries, with each library holding up to 40 frames. A fully loaded complex with 400,000 slots could hold 1.2 exabytes with LTO-5 drives (2:1 compression) and 3.6 exabytes with TS1140 drives (3:1 compression).

Spectra said its new library scales beyond libraries from enterprise tape library market leaders Oracle and IBM. Oracle’s StorageTek SL8500 Modular Library System holds 100,000 slots and 1 exabyte with LTO drives, and the IBM TS3500 has 300,000 slots for 2.7 exabytes with TS1140 drives and 900 PB for LTO drives.

Spectra also released Version 12 of its BlueScale management software, adding faster barcode scanning, enhanced motion codes, SSL web certificates and an XML Open Library API so customers can develop software apps for improved tape management. The vendor claims the faster barcode scanning and motion code enhancements will significantly speed robotic performance for its enterprise and midrange tape libraries.

BlueScale 12 is available on all Spectra T-Series tape libraries and is a free upgrade for current customers.

Other Spectra enhancements include a Carbide Clean pre-cleaning media process and Bulk TeraPack Access Port (TAP) system for importing and exporting tapes faster. Carbide Clear cleans tapes before they are shipped, which the vendor claims extends the life of the media.

According to Molly Rector, Spectra’s chief marketing officer, new tapes accumulate debris during the manufacturing process, which can cause excessive wear on drive heads and reduce their life span. By adding the mechanical cleaning process with a carbide blade, Rector said Spectra can double the useful life of a tape from 800 hours to 1,600 hours.

”When you get hundreds of thousands of tapes, this becomes very important,” Rector said.

Bulk TAP is an optional feature on Spectra’s T950 and T-Finity enterprise tape libraries that allows administrators to import and export up to 140 tapes at a time, or up to 500 TB of data.

According to Enterprise Strategy Group senior analyst Mark Peters, Spectra Logic’s tape and management enhancements are part of the company’s efforts to convince administrators that tape remains relevant and useful for storage.

“Tape is perceived badly because over the decades that we’ve been using it, it’s typically been unreliable because it’s uncertain that you’ll be able to read what’s there,” Peters said. “It’s also been very hard to find what’s where.”

He said that rightly or wrongly, disk is perceived to be much more reliable than tape.

Peters mentioned that he is specifically interested in the BluScale Version 12 update because it includes the XML API, which organizations can use to develop customized searching capabilities. Peters said improved search is a key for the continued use of tape storage.

“Administrators want more certainty that data stored on tape will be where the system says it is and it will be readable,” he said.


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