The business world has long relied on tape storage as a cost-effective medium for protecting critical business data from becoming lost due to system failure, operator errors, theft and natural disasters. The good news for many enterprises is that an aging technology that has long lain dormant is once again springing back to life through the launch of new products spanning the small to very large business environments.
For example, it is significant that both IBM and Sun Microsystems have unveiled new tape-drive products this month that promise to break the one-terabyte-capacity barrier. Moreover, HP and Sony now say they will be partnering in the creation of a next-generation Digital Audio Tape (DAT) format that will deliver improved performance and capacity over current DAT tape offerings.
An Ideal Choice
Many small to midsize businesses currently rely on DAT to back up and restore critical business data. So it's no wonder that many tape customers "are concerned about outgrowing their existing tape drives and do not want to switch away from a cost-effective and trusted technology like DAT/DDS," noted IDC Research Director Robert Amatruda.
Featuring backup speeds of up to 86 gigabytes per hour with 2:1 data compression, the new DAT 320 standard now under development will offer up to 320GB of capacity on a single cartridge, which is twice the capacity of today's DAT 160 format.
"The doubled capacity with the DAT 320 will be an ideal choice for small to midsize businesses who have limited space for extra hardware," Amatruda said.
Even better, DAT 320 is expected to consume fewer watts per gigabyte than previous tape generations and will be backward-compatible with today's DAT 160 format. Though the two partners will be jointly developing DAT 320 as an open standard, each company intends to separately offer its own DAT 320 tape drives and cartridges beginning next year.
Large businesses serving the life science, high-performance computing and financial-services markets not only need highly available access to data, but are also continually looking for ways to consolidate floor space and lower their data-center power requirements. The latest one-terabyte drives coming separately from IBM and Sun Microsystems should help these enterprises better protect their media investments even as they lower their costs, industry participants say.
CIOs and data-center managers will be able to better "address their growing needs for affordable and robust data solutions by storing more data on fewer cartridges, which will save clients valuable time, space, energy and money," explained Cindy Grossman, a vice president at IBM System Storage.
The IBM System Storage TS1130, which offers a maximum data rate of 160 megabytes per second and supports drive-based data encryption, is slated for a September introduction at price points that begin at $39,050. Additionally, Big Blue says it will be offering its customers an upgrade from existing drives for $19,500.
The Sun StorageTek T10000B tape drive, which achieves a maximum date rate of 120 megabytes per second, "works with the fast-access Sun StorageTek T9840D tape drive to optimize customers' multi-tiered storage architecture and cut data-center space requirements in half," said Jason Schaffer, Sun's senior director of storage marketing. The new tape drive from Sun will launch later this month under a pricing structure that starts at $37,000.