New tape rack: same size, double capacity

New tape rack: same size, double capacity

Storage Technology (StorageTek) has produced a new 100TB tape library that slots into a standard rack size but provides twice as much capacity as competing products.

The StreamLine (SL) 500 is a 30 to 577 slot rack-mount tape library that supports the Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Seagate Technology LLC linear tape open (LTO) format and, soon, DEC/Quantum Super Digital Linear Tape (SDLT) format.

It can have Fibre Channel or SCSI connectivity and offers capacity on demand. Additional drives or slots are delivered and enabled by an electronic key. The SL500 main advantage though is its capacity -- at 90 slots per square foot, it is far denser than ADIC's Scalar 100 with 36 slots/sq ft, or Overland's Neo family with 40 slots/sq ft.

StorageTek believes customers want rack-based and modular libraries in the mid-range area. Standard racks fit in their data centers and in-rack expansion with a single controller/robotics module preserves reliability whilst providing scalability. (Robotics and other components can be duelled for increased reliability.)

The SL500 is an intrinsic part of its Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) strategy, the company said. It may have additional functionality offered in the future as part of this, such as a disk cache or virtual tape system.

It is positioned below the SL8500, a much larger library with 1,000 to 300,000-plus slots and up to 2,043 drives. The SL500 also comes in a smaller deskside cabinet with 2 drives and 30-50 slots. The SL500, like the SL8500, can have any tape format in any slot; partitioning is logical rather than physical.

StorageTek said that competing Quantum M Series and Overland Storage's Neo are monolithic because expansion adds more components and decreases reliability and, eventually needs a cabinet change.

Sun Microsystems, which already resells the SL8500, "will evaluate the SL500," according to Christopher Jones, Sun's EMEA business manager for networked storage. Sun and StorageTek also announced a much expanded partnership, going beyond the existing OEM relationship. Jon Benson, StorageTek's general manager for its automated tape solutions group, expects that its high-end Powderhorn libraries will eventually be replaced by the Streamline line and that a low-end Streamline model will be introduced. No end-of-plan exists for Powderhorn though and availability throughout 2005 was confirmed.

BRM software was also announced which monitors backup status from servers, across the SAN, and on to StorageTek tape libraries such as the L Series and StreamLine family. There are indications that StorageTek may announce a NAS product, possibly later this year and enter the content-addressed or object storage space.

The SL500 will become available later this year, possibly Q4, when its price will be announced. With just two basic components, controller and slot/drive modules, don't expect premium pricing.

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