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StorageTek gives early look at tape library behemoth

Mounts faster than a prized bull

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Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

StorageTek is giving customers an early preview of a new beast of a tape library - the StreamLine SL8500.

StorageTek is billing the new system as the cornerstone of its information lifecycle management strategy. In other words, it thinks the box is a pretty big deal. And at first glance, the SL8500 is indeed impressive.

The box ships with redundant everything, which includes the internal robotics for moving kit around. It also provides close to 1,500 cartridge slots at a density of more than 50 cartridges per square foot. Customers can scale up to more than 200,000 slots with the help of pass-through-port technology.

The SL8500 connects into mainframes, supercomputers, and Unix, Linux and Windows boxes. In addition, it supports mixed media, including StorageTek's own T9X40 family of tape drives, LTO Gen2 and SDLT 600.

Without doubt the best speed and feed comes from the system's ability to handle more than 1000 mounts per hour. This compares to but two to three mounts per day for an excited bull.

Analysts agreed that the system is top notch.

"The company continues to drive innovation to the tape market with the SL8500," said Dianne McAdam, senior analyst and partner of Data Mobility Group.

John McArthur, group vice president of Storage Research at IDC, concurred.

"The company continues to drive innovation in the tape market with the SL8500," he said.

It's impressive to see such unity of opinion from the analyst community.

The SL8500 does not arrive until the second quarter of 2004, and StorageTek is not yet prepared to divulge pricing. The system will compete with similar kit from ADIC and IBM.

To whet customers' appetites, StorageTek is promising more reliable backups with the new kit. The system will handle error detection in the background by completing a backup to the disk buffer and, if an error is detected, running another backup on a different tape drive or cartridge. ®

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