Oracle tape adds capacity, LTFS for libraries

Oracle launches faster, higher-capacity StorageTek T10000 tape cartridges and LTFS software to better compete with LTO-6.

Oracle today took a shot at LTO tape, increasing the capacity of its StorageTek T10000 tape drive to 8.5 TB per cartridge and adding Linear Tape File System (LTFS) software that works across entire libraries.

The new T10000D drives used in Oracle StorageTek SL8500 and SL3000 enterprise libraries have 3.5 TB more native capacity per cartridge than the previous generation T10000C drives launched in early 2011. James Cates, Oracle vice president of hardware development, pointed out that the cartridges hold about 20 TB of compressed capacity, with 2.5-to-1 compression rates. The new drives also support 16 Gbps Fibre Channel and 10 Gbps Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) connectivity. Oracle claims the cartridges have a 252 MB per second (MBps) native transfer rate of uncompressed data.

Those specs compare with LTO-6's 2.5 TB of native or 6.25 TB of compressed capacity, and 210 MBps native data transfer data. StorageTek SL libraries can use LTO cartridges, but Oracle would rather have customers buy its T10000 drives.

"We think this upgrade is a good opportunity to displace LTO in our libraries and in competitors' libraries," Cates said.

Oracle's StorageTek Linear Tape File System, Library Edition (LTFS LE) lets customers search, index, and drag and drop files inside their SL libraries. Oracle previously supported LTFS on drives running on single cartridges, but this is its first library LTFS support. The LTFS software supports T10000 and LTO tape.

LTFS, also known as "tape NAS," has been around for several years, but adoption has been slow in most industries and hasn't given tape use the boost LTFS developers hoped for.

"This is when LTFS becomes interesting," Cates said. "We've taken our earlier drive cartridge capability and extended it to the library. We think LTFS will be a cornerstone for making tape easier to use."

Customers can download the LTFS LE software for a free 90-day trial before purchasing. The software is priced according to library type.

Cates said most of the adopters of LTFS so far are media and entertainment companies who need to frequently access files from tape. "They can bring files back into their libraries for file editing or clip editing," he said. "It enables a lot of capability for tape that was not there before. There is also interest in high-performance computing. People who are not wedded to a backup software package are generally the first to look at this."

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