Expanding on tapes

Solving data protection woes for an IT department and its users calls for more than just faster backup devices. In fact, many vendors are exploring more comprehensive solutions that essentially provide integrated hardware and software components for increased manageability and performance.

This week, however, two significant and very dissimilar new products from ADIC and Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek) caught our attention.

In alphabetical order, ADIC announced a new entry-level tape library, the Scalar 24, that mounts one or two SDLT or LTO tape drives and hosts 24 cartridges in only 4U of rack space. By the end of October, you'll be able to purchase a single-drive Scalar 24 for around US$12,000 and add a second tape drive yourself later.

Obviously two drives offer better performance than one, but also offer the option of splitting the Scalar 24 into two logically separated autoloaders. Add remote management, built-in 2Gbps fibre connectivity, and a three-year warranty, and you have a compact and competitively priced library that can be deployed almost anywhere in your enterprise.

StorageTek's attention-catching announcement involves a new model, the T9940B tape drive. With an astonishing 200GB per cartridge and 30MBps transfer rate without compression, the T9940B triples the capacity and performance of the previous model, positioning the new StorageTek unit from slightly above the Sony DTF 2.

The T9940B doesn't require purchasing new media and can read existing cartridges, although at an expected price of $39,500 per unit, purchasing a tape library with the new drives will call for some creative budgeting. However, StorageTek suggests that the reliability and high-performance characteristics of the T9940B hold a sure appeal for high-end users.

The reliability specs are impressive, including an expected head life (the most vulnerable part in any tape drive) of eight and a half years at 70 percent constant use and infinitesimal probability of read/write errors.

StorageTek is also moving forward in the disk business: The company just introduced the third product in its D-Series line, an LSI Logic Storage Systems line that StorageTek resells. The D280 is designed for large enterprise customers, as it scales up to 32TBs, features 2Gb host connectivity, and supports Linux, Unix, and Windows NT.

The beauty is that a single management tool can manage all three members of the product family. StorageTek envisions the D280 competing with EMC and Dell Computer's new CX600, as well as with Hitachi Data Systems' 9970 product.

And this may be only the beginning. The rumors say StorageTek will introduce an ATA-based storage array this year that will compete head-to-head with offerings from EMC and others. Stay tuned ...

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