RealTime IT News

IBM Still a Fan of Tape

Anyone who thinks corporate-compliance and record-retention regulations aren't wagging the dogs needs a reality check. In many cases, rules such as HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley are driving new standards and technologies for data encryption and archiving.

IBM today introduced tape storage drives based on the recently passed Linear Tape Open (LTO) Generation 4 standard, incorporating tape-encryption tools from its System Storage TS1120 tape drive.

The resulting integration allows the devices to compress and encrypt data with little or no impingement of the drive's performance.

This is a key accomplishment because customers demand the added safeguard of encryption -- which renders information unreadable by anyone but the key manager -- but who don't want the drive's ability to sock away or retrieve data impacted.

Pulling for tape.
Source: IBM

Despite rumors of its demise in favor of disk, tape storage is still a highly valued medium for backup, archiving and compliance, which is why LTO 4 drives are so highly anticipated by customers trying to temper the data explosion.

LTO 4 powers drives with greater performance and capacity than LTO Generation 3 could muster, said Craig Butler, business line executive for archive, IBM Systems Storage.

Specifically, IBM's new tape systems transfer data up to 240 megabytes per second, or 50 percent faster than LTO 3, and boast cartridge capacity to 1.6 terabytes , or double the capacity of LTO 3. The speed boost shortens backup windows while the capacity jump and compression reduces storage consumption.

Available in May, the new drives include the:

  • IBM System Storage TS2340 Tape Drive, an LTO 4 drive with 120MB per second of data transfer and 800GB native capacity (1.6 TB with 2:1 compression). Prices are $5,170 for the TS2340 LVD SCSI version and $5,681 for the TS2340 SAS version.
  • IBM System Storage TS3100 Tape Library, available with one LTO 4 drive with either Low Voltage Differential (LVD) SCSI, 4Gbps Fibre Drive, or new 3Gbps dual-port Serial-attached SCSI (SAS) for $5,770.
  • IBM System Storage TS3200 Tape Library: available with up to two LTO 4 drives with either LVD SCSI, 4Gbps Fibre, or 3Gbps dual port SAS for $5,770.
  • IBM System Storage TS3310 Tape Library, with modular design available with up to 316.8 TB native storage slot capacity and up to 18 LTO 4 4Gbps Fibre or dual-port SAS hot-swappable tape drives for $16,530.
  • IBM System Storage TS3500 Tape Library, with linear scalable design features and Multi-Path architecture; scales up to 16 frames, 192 tape drives, and over 6,000 cartridge slots for up to 10 petabytes  of capacity; $22,800.

IBM's announcement comes a week after Dell trotted out its PowerVault LTO-4-120 drives. Like IBM's new systems, Dell's LTO-4-120 features encryption, 800GB native capacity and a 50 percent performance increase over the previous generation.

Dell is shipping the drives today, with pricing for the external standalone Dell PowerVault LTO-4-120 drive starting at about $4,000.

Sun Microsystems, HP and other systems vendors are expected to come to market in the coming days or weeks.

IBM wasn't done with its storage news this week. In addition to the LTO 4 drives, Butler also said IBM completed the newest member to its virtual tape library family.

The IBM Virtualization Engine for Open Systems TS7520, the follow up to the TS7700 launched last year, uses SATA  drives to emulate tape systems for servers connected over Fiber Channel . The TS7500 will be available June 8.