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Quantum adds automated data verification for tape with StorNext archiving software

Quantum is following Spectra Logic’s lead by adding data verification for data stored on tape for long-term archiving.

Quantum Corp. today became the second vendor to add policy-based data verification for tape in less than a month when it integrated the feature into its StorNext Storage Manager archiving software. StorNext lets storage managers check the integrity of their data and, if needed, migrate the data from one tape to another on Quantum Scalar i6000 enterprise tape libraries.

Data verification is used to ensure data stored on tape remains viable for long-term archiving. Spectra Logic added data verification for its T-Finity enterprise and T-Series small- to medium-sized business (SMB) tape libraries in March.

Quantum’s new Extended Data Life Management (EDLM) tool for Scalar libraries can work with any archiving software and is integrated with the archiving piece of the StorNext file system for data migration. Customers can set policies so EDLM can scan tapes every few months to find out if data is corrupt, or EDLM can proactively identify any tape that has degraded. EDLM determines the number of recoverable read errors on the tape. When it finds a problem, the software tool notifies the Scalar i6000 enterprise library which, in turn, alerts the StorNext software to migrate the data to a healthy tape cartridge.

EDLM is part of Quantum’s iLayer management software that runs on all Scalar devices and works on LTO-2 through LTO-5 tape media. StorNext is installed on a server and does the migration.

Spectra Logic introduced data integrity verification in its BlueScale 11.3 management software last month. Spectra Logic’s BlueScale checks that data stored on tape remains authentic and the media where the data resides is healthy during long-term archiving. 

“A large reason people have concerns about tape is they write to it and months later come to read it, and it’s not there,” said Mark Peters, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group. “It’s good to see the industry stepping up.”

StorNext doesn't have a widespread presence in the market except in certain verticals. The software is popular within the media and entertainment industries, said Eric Bassier, Quantum’s director of tape automation. He said customers in those markets often use StorNext instead of backup software.

“What we are seeing with many of StorNext customers today is they are using tape to actually store video files,” he said. “They are using it for primary storage. StorNext is sort of an alternative to Symantec’s NetBackup, Backup Exec or CommVault’s Simpana.”

Tape makes its play as an archiving tier

After fighting a losing battle against disk in the backup market for years, the industry is becoming more comfortable with tape’s role as an archiving medium.

“There has been a lot of activity from tape vendors in the last six months or so,” Peters said. “As we get more into storage tiering, they are talking to us again. Whether it’s Linear Tape File System (LTFS), whether it’s data verification tools or a more general discussion of tape in the storage hierarchy, it’s making tape not only viable but valuable.”

The capability for StorNext to import from and export to LTFS tapes in a library is in the StorNext roadmap. Quantum is targeting delivery of this functionality in the first half of 2012. StorNext users can currently leverage available LTFS drivers to import or export files from their workstation to a directly attached LTO-5 tape drive.

Quantum also plans to use LTFS for content portability through StorNext software and Scalar libraries.

Dig Deeper on Tape backup and tape libraries

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