Get Ready For Super Tape Drives
Provide your customers with increased capacity and performance from new tape drives hitting the market in 2003.
The rumors floating around that tape is dead or is going away may be greatly exaggerated. Not only is tape still the primary backup medium for most companies, a new generation of tape drives is about to hit the market with substantially higher capacity (up to 400 GB) and performance (up to 40 MB/sec) than existing drives. "Tape is the solution that best addresses the off-site disaster recovery capability many companies desire," says Jeff Wells, product manager with Spectra Logic Corp. (Boulder, CO). "There is no other solution today that provides the same level of security and elimination of risk as tape."
Disk-To-Disk Becomes More Popular
One trend that has led many to believe the end of tape is near is the growing popularity of disk-to-disk (D2D) backup appliances. "The market has certainly been hearing a lot about D2D," says Wells. "D2D is a great way for customers to have that immediate restore capability. D2D takes a copy of the customer's data and stores it on disk where it is readily available." However, Wells notes the D2D hardware is typically located on-site, next to the primary RAID (redundant array of independent disks) device. "There is certainly a market for this type of solution," he adds. "But VARs should follow it up with tape for the off-site capability."
Increased Performance, Increased Capacity
Wells believes the next generation of tape drives will drive increased sales in the tape industry. Jonathan Otis, senior VP of technology at Advanced Digital Information Corp. (ADIC) (Redmond, WA), agrees. "In early 2003, the next generation of super drives will hit the market," he says. "The roadmap for most advanced tape technologies has capacity and performance doubling with each new generation. The higher capacity and performance of these drives will allow tape to continue to meet the needs of data center customers."
Although the new drives will feature increased speed and capacity, VARs should not expect a corresponding increase in price. "For VARs, this means being able to deploy more advanced solutions for customers," says Otis. "Because these tape resources now offer higher performance, they can be shared between the applications and servers needing to use them." This sharing of the tape hardware is one of the benefits enabled by Fibre Channel.
WORM Solutions Are In Demand
John Woelbern, director of OEM marketing for Sony Electronics' Tape Storage Solutions group (San Jose, CA), believes the trend in the tape market is high-density tape drives. "The industry classifies high density as 400 GB and above, and we will see a lot of products emerging in that space over the next six months," he says. "There is still a lot of market interest in backup and archiving and in meeting those needs with drives having higher capacity points."
Woelbern believes cost is a factor that will continue to make tape an attractive alternative to other types of storage, notably disk. But he believes tape will also be the storage medium of choice for customers needing data permanence. "Data permanence refers to WORM, or write once, read many solutions," he says. "When customers need to archive data and that data cannot be changed for any reason, WORM is the right solution. Tape is becoming a strong contender in that space, driven by the mandate to archive records for longer periods of time."
Sell Tape Automation As Well
IT departments have been tasked with managing growing data resources with tighter budgets. To meet customer needs in this environment, VARs must provide a range of tape automation products. "Effective solutions need to provide end users the flexibility to expand their systems as data requirements grow, with minimal additional investment," says Christie Huff, director of channel and partner marketing for Overland Storage, Inc. (San Diego).
With the next generation of super drives ready to hit the market, Huff believes VARs should rely on tape automation products which offer the customer investment protection. This would include features such as expansion on demand, which ensures IT managers are using products that can adapt with them and their business. "Tape solutions must be both scalable and reliable, with built-in redundancy to enable nonstop operation," she says. "Customers require systems and solutions that will continue to operate even if one component, like a tape drive or power supply, should fail." It is also important for VARs to provide products with flexible connectivity as new technologies continue to emerge.