Tape Storage Gets New Life

Host bus adapters and tape libraries will soon be faster and easier to manage.

Host bus adapters and tape libraries will soon be faster and easier to manage, thanks to industry efforts to keep up with the advances and popularity of SANs.

Vendors in both niches are getting help from the SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association), which aims to expedite interoperability.

For HBAs, a new approach is the adoption of PCI Express interfaces. PCI Express transmits at 128G bps and was certified by both Emulex Corp., of Costa Mesa, Calif., and QLogic Corp. last week, officials of the companies said. Both companies will ship compatible cards early next year. The new technology wont add any cost for end users and will be ubiquitous in five years, said Rob Davis, vice president of advanced technology for QLogic, in Aliso Viejo, Calif.

By the third quarter of next year, HBA vendors also expect to ship custom SMI-S (Storage Management Initiative Specification) software, now being developed and funded by SNIAs new HBA and Host Discovered Resource Project, which held its first meeting this month.

The open-source software will provide context to management applications and server operating systems, said Roger Reich, SMI chairman, and senior technical director at Veritas Software Corp., of Mountain View, Calif.

Robert Kleppen, senior systems engineer at Electronic Evidence Discovery Inc., in Seattle, said he has mixed feelings on the PCI Express and standards advances. On one hand, an HBA is "just my transceiver and receiver. Its just supposed to do that job," he said.

On the other, "it depends really on what usability it has for me, what kind of intrusive behavior it has" on his Dell Inc./EMC Corp. Clariion CX600-based SAN (storage area network), he said.

Tape technologies also are addressing the trend of disk-based backup. Such systems often output only in proprietary formats, especially when original data is from a mainframe. Advanced Digital Information Corp. will ship an original-format output appliance by early December, said Jonathan Otis, senior vice president of technology, in Redmond, Wash.

Pathlight VX starts at $200,000 with 10 terabytes and uses a Linux metadata server, Otis said. Thats separate from the controllers needed to simplify future scalability, he said. More management features will come in the first half of next year.