Quantum Initiative Detects Tape Trouble Spots

By Henry Baltazar  |  Posted 2003-07-30

Quantum Initiative Detects Tape Trouble Spots

Whats the most annoying problem in storage management today? Im sure most of you out there have your pet peeves, but to me nothing is more frustrating than having a failed backup.

Lets face it. Running tape backups is the IT managers equivalent of taking out the trash or mowing the lawn, hated tasks that must be done but are rarely enjoyable.

Tapes are mechanical devices and since they are, by nature, removable storage, they are often subjected to a wide variety of environmental and physical shocks, some of which can ruin them or, at the very least, shorten their lives.

Given the fact that tape failures are far too common experiences, the prospect of backing up and failing has become an even more annoying headache for many IT managers.

The most frustrating aspect of failed backups is more than just the failed event; its the fact that, often, when backups fail we dont know exactly why. Usually all we get is a failure alert in our event log, often followed by a vague message signaling a hardware problem.

Even if we narrow down the problem to a hardware issue, we rarely know if the backup failed because of a bad tape or because the tape drive itself has issues.

Simply put, tape hardware vendors need to interact more with software vendors to make IT managers lives easier. Although many tape drives have diagnostic tools built into them, the information they gather is usually not shared with backup software vendors.

Quantums Leap

Quantums Leap

The DLTsage initiative, from Quantum, aims to help change this, by giving IT managers and software vendors access to hardware diagnostic tools designed to report analyze tape drives and media.

When I first saw an early demo of DLTsage a few weeks ago, I was impressed with the potential of this technology to not only help IT managers pinpoint hardware problems but also to keep track of wear and tear on tapes.

The demo showed that DLTsage was able to harness tape drives to glean important status information on tapes—such as the condition of a tape and how often a tape has been loaded—letting managers know what tapes are getting worn out and which ones have the potential to fail sooner rather than later.

DLTsage will be available in Quantums tape products, and the company is working on partnerships with hardware and software vendors to make sure that they can utilize the additional information and weave it into their own management software to make hardware troubleshooting less troublesome.

Quantums initiative is the first time Ive seen a hardware vendor reaching out to software vendors to make diagnostic software more important. However, this approach makes so much sense that I expect to see similar moves by other hardware vendors in the future.

Hopefully well see more tape manufacturers adding improved diagnostics and tape analysis tools to their drives—something that should have done a while ago, to make backup processes more efficient and manageable.

Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar can be reached at henry_baltazar@ziffdavis.com.

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