Storage UPDATE--Super Tape Drives--March 15, 2004

Storage UPDATE--Super Tape Drives--March 15, 2004

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- Super-Tape-Drive Market Remains Dynamic

News and Views

- IBM Bundles New Storage Suite

- Dell and VMware Team Up on Virtualization

New and Improved

- Back Up Dynamic Disks

- Tape Libraries Add iSCSI Interface

- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

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==== Commentary ====

by Elliot King, [email protected]

Super-Tape-Drive Market Remains Dynamic

Overall, the storage industry ended 2003 on a strong note, according to a recently issued study from Gartner. Sales of storage systems jumped 18 percent sequentially in the fourth quarter, while the controller-based disk-drive market climbed 6 percent in 2003. According to IDC's Worldwide Disk Storage Systems Quarterly Tracker, factory revenues grew 8.4 percent year over year to $3.7 billion in fourth quarter 2003.

Although industry analysts have heralded the return to healthy if not spectacular storage growth, preliminary data gathered by Freeman Reports, a data storage industry analyst firm, indicates that certain sectors of the tape drive market are positively on fire. In fact, according to Bob Abraham, president of Freeman Reports, sales of Quantum's Super DLT (SDLT) tape drives jumped 36 percent year over year and overall growth in the super-tape-drive sector exceeded 35 percent.

Abraham divides the tape market into several segments according to capacity, speed, form factor, and application. The top-of-the-line category consists of mainframe tape drives. The other categories are Super drives that are used in midrange distributed systems and low-end enterprise system infrastructures, followed by midrange drives for smaller network applications, then the desktop and entry-level server segment.

According to Abraham's preliminary estimates, the market for tape drives for the mainframe arena remained strong, but the market has few competitors and is dominated by IBM's Enterprise Tape System 3590 drive. Sales of entry-level and desktop tape drives continue to plunge as enterprises move increasingly to back up at the network level and individual users migrate to optical media for backup. CD-RW drives are now standard operating equipment for most personal computers.

As a result, the super drive segment has emerged as the most dynamic and competitive tape drive sector. The market's dynamism has been sparked in part by the intense competition among three competing technologies--SDLT; Linear Tape-Open (LTO), a format promoted by a consortium led by IBM and HP; and Super AIT (SAIT), a super drive format from Sony. As Abraham tells it, LTO was the first super drive format to be introduced to market, and it grabbed significant market share at Quantum's expense. Quantum responded vigorously, introducing SDLT about 6 months after LTO began shipping. SAIT is the newest entry in the market.

Overall, according to Abraham, LTO has approximately twice the market share of SDLT, and sales of SAIT accelerated sharply in their first year, although SAIT drives still represent a small share of the overall market. Of the six major players in the super drive sector, Quantum remains the market leader.

The competition in the super drive sector is being shaped by three major trends. First, as Abraham noted, enterprises rarely replace their incumbent tape drive technology. "They would rather fight than switch," he said. "There is very little rip and replace." As companies need more tape capacity, they generally upgrade their existing technology. Consequently, the competition among the major vendors generally revolves around new applications.

Second, the role of tape is changing dramatically. As a backup and recovery medium, tape was a technology that many people hated but couldn't live without. Horror stories of failed backups and horrendously long recovery periods abounded.

But more and more companies are turning to disk-based media for backup and recovery. In those settings, tape is used primarily as an archiving technology, and the amount of data that needs to be archived is growing rapidly. Disk-based solutions are typically better suited to backup and, particularly, recovery operations, whereas tape is extremely cost effective for archiving. Moreover, an intermediate disk layer can provide a steadier stream of data to the tape drive, thus improving performance.

As tape finds a new role in the storage infrastructure, tape drives are becoming more intelligent. Quantum, for example, has layered intelligence into both its SDLT 600 drive and the tape cartridge, giving administrators better insight into the operation of the technology. Organizations have responded to improved manageability, according to Steve Berens, senior director of product marketing and strategy for Quantum's Storage Devices Business Unit.

In its new role, tape promises to continue to play a significant part in many network-based computer infrastructures. Unlike with many other types of technology, enterprises are loyal to their tape technology. But newer technologies have sparked lively competition, accelerating the development of performance and intelligence in product offerings.

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==== News and Views ====

by Keith Furman, [email protected]

IBM Bundles New Storage Suite

IBM is set to release a new storage-software suite designed for managing heterogeneous storage environments. The company will combine previous offerings in the new product suite, called the IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center. The suite will offer a centralized software interface for managing hardware, maintaining storage networks, and analyzing performance. "Productivity Center fills a critical void left by competitive offerings. It not only centralizes but also automates storage infrastructure management--reducing the need for human intervention," said Brian Truskowski, general manager of storage software at IBM.

According to the company, the Productivity Center will provide centralized management of multiple storage hardware systems, heterogeneous Storage Area Network (SAN) management, and Storage Resource Management (SRM), including monitoring, reporting, and real-time alerts. The product is part of a new family of products from IBM called the IBM TotalStorage Open Software Family, which includes IBM Tivoli storage software. The Productivity Center will be available in May; prices will start at $5000.

Dell and VMware Team Up on Virtualization

Dell has formed an alliance with VMware, an EMC company, to offer virtualization technology to Dell customers. Dell will begin to offer new configurations of its PowerEdge servers and Dell/EMC storage systems with VMware software. VMware's virtualization software lets a physical server act as two or more separate virtual systems. The new Dell solutions will enable customers to increase usage levels on two- and four-processor servers by running more applications. "Dell is delivering more flexible standards-based solutions to help customers better utilize computing resources and keep costs low," said Jeff Clarke, senior vice president and general manager, Dell Product Group.

The Dell/VMware solutions will use VMware VirtualCenter and VMotion technology. VirtualCenter offers a central point of control for virtualization technology across a network. VMotion dynamically moves applications to different servers based on demand and the business's need to manage peak workflows.

Dell's available solutions will include Dell PowerEdge 6650 servers that run VMware ESX Server 2.0.1, VirtualCenter, and VMotion; Dell/EMC CX500 and CX300 storage systems to enable VMotion capability; and a Dell PowerEdge 1750 running the VMware VirtualCenter management server. The solutions are available today and start at $30,579.

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==== New and Improved ====

by Renee Munshi, [email protected]

Back Up Dynamic Disks

Host Interface International announced the availability of Double Image-O 5.0 backup and restore software. Double Image-O lets you back up dynamic disks--including RAID arrays, striped disks, spanned disks, and open files--on Windows machines running in a 24 x 7 operation. The product runs on Windows Server 2003, XP, Win2K, and NT desktops and servers and works with any local or external disk drive, FireWire (IEEE 1394), and USB. You can back up by using the user interface, command line, or a combination of both. Double Image-O 5.0 is retail priced at $199 for desktops, $549 for servers, and $749 for enterprise servers. Learn more at the vendor's Web site:

Tape Libraries Add iSCSI Interface

Advanced Digital Information Corporation (ADIC) announced the introduction of Internet SCSI (iSCSI) connectivity options for the Scalar family of tape libraries, starting with the Scalar 24 and Scalar 100 models. The new connectivity option lets workgroups, branch offices, and smaller enterprises use their Ethernet networks to connect one or more servers directly to a tape library for backup. Suggested list pricing for the Scalar 24 with iSCSI starts at $17,434; the starting list price for an iSCSI-enabled Scalar 100 is $22,680. For more information about the Scalar 24 and Scalar 100 models, go to ADIC's Web site.

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