The tedious task of managing automated libraries and tape cartridges should get easier and faster with advances from a pair of tape developers due this spring.
Advanced Digital Information Corp. later this month will announce its Scaler i2000 library, a system that can run AIT (advanced intelligent tape), SDLT (super-digital linear tape) and LTO (linear tape-open) formats, all simultaneously, officials said.
"You can mix and match any number you want in a single cabinet," said David Uvelli, project manager at ADIC, in Redmond, Wash. That saves space because large installations no longer need three separate libraries, Uvelli said. The library will ship in May holding 306 LTO cartridges and will have capacity for 408 AIT and 255 SDLT cartridges by this summer, he said.
Uvelli said mixed-tape environments have been difficult to develop because "the challenge turns out to be a software problem, knowing where all these units are, dividing it into partitions." To address that, ADIC put a 440MHz PowerPC chip into the i2000, eliminating the need for a separate server. Future versions will share that chip with phone-home and other monitoring features, Uvelli said. Pricing for the i2000 starts at $80,000 to $85,000, with two drives.
Separately, Spectra Logic Corp. will offer firmware upgrades for its Spectra 20000 and Spectra 64000 libraries that give users the option of running iSCSI connections over Gigabit Ethernet, said Sharon Isaacson, product manager at the Boulder, Colo., company. That update will ship April 14, with support for the smaller Spectra 2000 due in June.
The iSCSI libraries will connect to host bus adapters from Adaptec Inc., Emulex Corp. and Intel Corp. They are certified for the iSCSI upgrade to Windows Server 2003, already announced by Microsoft Corp. and set for a June launch, officials said.
No extra security is used along with iSCSIs defaults, but "its something were looking into," Isaacson said.
Steve Woods, principal systems analyst at the North Carolina Supercomputing Center, in Research Triangle Park, N.C., uses IBM libraries running 100 terabytes of LTO cartridges. A mixed-format system such as ADICs "could conceivably be a benefit because the robots arent cheap," Woods said. Features such as Spectra Logics iSCSI also are intriguing, said Woods. "Weve got large pipes throughout the state, [so] the iSCSI is starting to sound really interesting. We really want to follow where thats going." NCSC is looking forward to higher-capacity tapes as well, he added.
The Internet Engineering Task Force approved the iSCSI specification last month. Related specifications such as Internet Storage Name Service are also close to completion, working group members said.
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