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Big New Tape Libraries In Smaller Packages

Big tape libraries come in smaller packages.

If you're straining the limits of your tape library, fear not--tape automation system vendors have been beavering away at ever-larger and more "intelligent" libraries for the open-systems marketplace.

Advanced Digital Information Corp. (ADIC) led the charge this summer when it introduced its Scalar i2000 library, which Matt Chew, ADIC product manager, describes as "a culmination of a lot of activity about taking our libraries to the next level." That next level includes a new centralized processor to enable more software functions to reside natively within the library, improved self-monitoring capabilities, a 19" rack mount form factor, and capacity-on-demand tape slots. Speaking of tape slots, the i2000 can hold from 100 to 2,232 tape slots and up to 96 drives, in either LTO-1, LTO-2, SDLT 320 or AIT-3 formats. That translates to approximately 670TB of compressed data capacity.

An even larger tape library is on tap from Quantum, with its new MAKO PX720 library, announced in September. A single PX720 "frame" holds 20 drives and 732 cartridges. Using Quantum's Crosslink technology, up to five frames can be joined for 100 drives, and more than 3,600 slots. Assuming LTO-2 drives, the PX720s can hold 732TB of compressed capacity and backup up to 21.6TB/hr with 2:1 compression.

Vendors that have traditionally played further down market are also upping the ante. Overland Storage, which OEMs libraries to both Hewlett-Packard and IBM, expanded its Neo line with the introduction of the Neo 8000 series, which holds up to 500 half-inch cartridges. "This is arguably Overland's first high-end product," says Robert Amatruda, IDC research manager, which begins to make a lot of sense in the context of the company's acquisition this summer of Okapi Software, and its subsequent introduction of the Reo series of disk-based backup and recovery appliances.

Spectra Logic, meanwhile, which is known for its 8mm AIT libraries, made its first foray in to the half-inch tape space, with the introduction of its Spectra 950K with Python architecture. Features include a new media handling system called the TeraPak, which holds up to 1,200 LTO cartridges per square meter. "It's a very dense, very unique product," says IDC's Amatruda. Assuming LTO-2 tape drives, a single T950 can store up to 520TB (compressed) in one rack grid of space, with throughput of 6TB/hr (compressed).

"All this says to me, 'Hey, the tape market really isn't dead. There's a whole lot of innovation going on,'" says Nancy Marrone Hurley, senior analyst with the Enterprise Storage Group.

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