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 user 2009-05-19 at 12:27:49 pm Views: 85
  • #22031,289142,sid187_gci1355225,00.html
    Here comes LTO-5 tape technology, ready or not
    tape backup and recovery technology has failed to live up to repeated
    predictions of its imminent demise, one of the reasons must surely be
    the LTO Consortium. Over a period of about 10 years, the LTO Ultrium
    format, developed and supported by technology providers including
    Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co., IBM Corp. and Quantum Corp. (and their
    predecessors) has brought to market four generations of high-capacity
    tape storage products with a carefully laid out, six-generation roadmap
    for growth and scalability.

    LTO-4, the current generation of
    tape, provides up to 1.6 TB of capacity per cartridge and transfer
    rates of up to 240 MBps (assuming 2:1 compression). The format has also
    been made to provide for write once, read many (WORM) functionality to
    help address regulatory compliance needs along with tape drive
    level-based encryption to strengthen security.
    Now, with a slow
    economy and adoption of LTO-4 by no means complete, the LTO Consortium
    is gearing up to offer LTO-5, probably early in 2010, with a capacity
    likely to be in the range of 3.2 TB and data transfer rates of up to
    360 MBps (in both cases, assuming a 2:1 compression ratio).

    Who needs LTO-5?
    is the market ready and does anyone really need that kind of
    capability? William R. Qualls, director of magnetic tape at Imation
    Corp., says yes. In his view, higher capacity gives organizations a
    chance to keep the same physical footprint while keeping up with the
    doubling of data that happens every two years, on average.

    Robert Amatruda, an analyst at IDC, is more cautious. He said in the
    big picture, LTO is on a roll. “It has been tremendous,” he said.
    However, he added, the tape market doesn’t lend itself to quick
    transitions. “It isn’t like the hard drive world where you are in and
    out of a technology generation in 18 months — with tape, it is more
    like 36 or more months before the current generation fully matures,” he
    said.Indeed, he said, all of the LTO vendors are grappling with that
    fact and the reality that the current economy is adding “staying power”
    to existing LTO deployments.

    While somewhat more optimistic,
    Robert Sims at Crossroads, a storage solutions vendor, acknowledges the
    challenges. He pointed out that LTO-2 came out on schedule and while
    there was an effort to get quick adoption, not everyone did, or at
    least not as quickly as the vendors had planned or wanted. That trend
    continued significantly in LTO-4. In fact, he noted, there are a lot of
    companies that have only recently moved to LTO-3.”We have some
    customers who are thinking of skipping LTO-4 entirely, and others say
    LTO-2 is meeting all their needs and they aren’t sure they will ever
    go,” he said. And with tight capital expenditure budgets, “People
    aren’t throwing this technology away — I think the roadmaps showing
    continued performance gains and doubling of capacity aren’t necessarily
    what the market wants,” he added. On the other hand, LTO-4′s new
    encryption capabilities, which LTO-5 is expected to continue, did help
    some companies to justify an upgrade.

    Of course, for better or
    worse, LTO has maintained and is expected to continue to support
    orderly transitions rather than “big-bang” changes. For instance, LTO-4
    format supports backwards-compatible read-and-write capability with LTO
    generation 3 cartridges and backward read capabilities with LTO
    generation 2 cartridges. That same kind of backward compatibility is
    expected to continue with LTO-5.”It isn’t like the hard drive world
    where you are in and out of a technology generation in 18 months –
    with tape, it is more like 36 or more months before the current
    generation fully matures.Robert Amatruda analyst, IDC
    in the vendor community are far more bullish, though. For instance,
    John Zammett, president of HorizonTek Inc., in Huntington NY, a storage
    and backup solutions provider offering said, “LTO-5 is a no brainer.”
    In his view, although the media is likely to be more expensive, it is
    less expensive overall than even LTO-3 because the price-to-capacity
    ratio is more favorable. “So it is not a matter of trying to force a
    high-tech sales on people. On the low end, people may not need the
    throughput or capacity, but it makes sense because of the overall cost
    of media and in large environments it makes sense because it handles
    large amounts of data so well.”

    Bob Covey, vice president of
    marketing at Qualstar Corp., a tape system vendor, is equally bullish.
    “In the market I think there is always room for more capacity,” he
    said. “Every time capacity goes up, the cost per gigabyte goes down.
    There are clearly customers who have such enormous requirements that
    capacity is a big factor. We have customers on LTO-3 that will upgrade
    straight to LTO-5, and a number of them have already expressed strong
    interest in it.”

    More organizations are using tape for archiving
    Covey noted, LTO makes upgrades easy. “Every one of the previous [LTO]
    upgrades has been completely painless. Every library we have handled
    since LTO-1 has accepted the modification without any changes other
    than firmware.”

    Then, looking at the issue strategically, he
    said many organizations are paying more attention to archive functions
    than in the past. “When you talk about archiving, you are talking about
    the cost per gigabyte or terabyte — tape is clearly at the forefront
    and when you get a 2:1 increase in capacity; customers will really
    welcome the change,” he added.

    So, is it really too soon for
    LTO-5? “That is a key question,” admitted Amatruda. “I think the tape
    vendors could reap the install and maturity of early LTO generations
    for a bit longer but I think the tape vendors are also under the gun to
    continue to roll out higher capacity and remain cost effective. Tape is
    not dead and it’s not even wounded, and LTO has been a terrific format
    so far,” added Covey.

    David G. Hill, analyst at the Mesabi Group
    LLC, said he expects LTO-5 will build upon the success of its
    predecessor LTO-4. “The LTO program has been a successful one, and,
    other than the impact due to the existing financial climate, I would
    expect that to continue,” he said.”Even though disk-to-disk backup
    options, including VTLs [virtual tape libraries], are likely to