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Spectra tape library line grows with Stack, T950v

Spectra Logic tape library choices now include the scalable Stack and a cheaper version of its previous T950 line. Tape can be a key storage element, as data sets continue to grow.

Spectra Logic has added two new entry-level tape library systems, including one that lets organizations scale from a single drive to 42 drives.

The new Spectra Stack line is a scalable library that can expand to seven 6U modules in a rack. Spectra also added the T950v, an entry-level version of the high-end T950 Spectra tape library line.

How Spectra stacks up

The Spectra Stack, in a single standard 19-inch rack, is designed for midsize and large businesses. Customers can expand the Spectra tape library, module by module, with up to 560 LTO tapes per rack. The Stack supports full-height and half-height drives.

"This is the first time Spectra has launched anything like this," David Feller, vice president of product management, said of the stackable library.

Each module holds up to 80 LTO tapes and up to six LTO half-height tape drives or up to three LTO full-height drives. A seven-module Spectra Stack, when fully populated with LTO-8 drives and media, can store up to 6.7 PB uncompressed, or 16.75 PB compressed. It reaches data transfer speeds of up to 45 TB an hour uncompressed, or 105 TB an hour compressed, in a single standard rack.

Recently released LTO-8 media offers 30 TB of compressed storage capacity and 12 TB of uncompressed capacity per tape.

The Spectra Stack supports tape drives of LTO-5 through LTO-8, and media from LTO-3 to LTO-8, plus LTO-7 Type M. The Spectra tape library integrates with the vendor's BlackPearl Converged Storage System, which enables creation of an object storage system with tape, archive disk and online disk.

The media and entertainment industry, as well as the financial market, are key customer groups, Feller said. In addition, the use of tape for storing video surveillance data is soaring.

Analyst Jon Toigo said although the launch didn't "wow" him -- as scalable libraries have been around for years -- it "seems pretty logical" for Spectra to take this step. Toigo, managing partner of Toigo Partners International and chairman of the Data Management Institute, said he doesn't hear a lot of negatives about Spectra's products.

The Spectra Stack is available now in North America and Europe. Pricing starts at $9,000 for a library with 40 slots and a single LTO-7 tape drive.

Spectra Stack tape library
The Spectra Stack is a scalable tape library that can grow to hold up to 560 LTO tapes and 42 LTO tape drives per rack.

Spectra simplifies with T950v

Tape is showing a lot of runway.
Jon Toigochairman, Data Management Institute

The T950v is designed for general IT and media and entertainment applications.

"The goal is cost reduction," Feller said.

This Spectra tape library is based on the T950 medium-capacity line, but marks a more streamlined version. It does not include add-ons primarily used in high-performance computing, such as remote camera monitoring, and adds full support for lower-cost half-height drives. Customers can save tens of thousands of dollars per installation, according to Spectra.

When fully populated with 120 LTO-8 tape drives and media, the T950v stores up to 120 PB uncompressed, or 300 PB compressed, and features data transfer speeds up to 155 TB per hour uncompressed, or 324 TB per hour compressed.

The T950v supports LTO-5 and up, Feller said. It is available now worldwide.

Tape's place in the storage game

It's going to be important for tape vendors like Spectra to successfully get the message out about the upsides of tapes and libraries, Toigo said. With zettabytes of new data expected within just a few years, tape needs to be part of the storage equation.

"Tape is showing a lot of runway, possibly more runway than disk," Toigo said. Advantages include its capacity increases and new technologies, such as tunnel magnetoresistance

Tape provides a strong use in media and entertainment, as well as video surveillance -- "anywhere you have rich media," Toigo said.

In addition, an offline tape is "completely immune to ransomware," Feller said.

Feller acknowledged the cloud presents a good opportunity for SMBs looking to store up to 100 TB. But as a company grows, having a combination of cloud and on-premises storage is logical for practicality and cost reasons. The cloud, Feller said, is cheap for storage, but expensive to touch, and using it the right way is important.

"It's not a competition," he said.

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