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Brits keep it simple in Somerset

Tape libraries with no fuss

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Storage Expo If you reckon storage is getting way too complicated and layered, you're not alone. It's the rationale behind M5 Data, a Somerset-based start-up which claims its upcoming Richmond tape libraries will provide high density and scalability, with no added fuss.

"Other library players are trying to add value - disk caches and so on. We just go for the core skills," said marketing director Eric Lowe.

"We believe there is a market for tape as a stand-alone commodity, rather than as part of a large puzzle. The storage industry is getting to the stage where you've virtualised this and virtualised that, and where the hell is the data?"

Richmond can pack 64 LTO tape cartridges into a 6U box or 120 into 10U, and Lowe claims this is where M5's design engineers have the edge.

"The LTO drive is easy," he said. "The hard bit is how you get the most slots per U and how you get the lift mechanism to do the long reach - it has to be steady and accurate."

The robotic arm is spring-loaded and can work up to 5U above and below the base 6U library module. That means users will be able to add expansion units holding two more drives and 64 more tapes, Lowe said.

If the company name seems familiar, it's not surprising - M5 Data is headed by Duke Ebenezer, formerly the boss of British tape library manufacturer M4 Data, which was bought by Quantum five years ago.

Quantum subsequently sold on the M4 Data brand (to Pinetree Peripherals, which had been M4's service partner) but Ebenezer said he managed to keep the core M4 team together, and they're now at M5.

He said M5 will concentrate on customers with the knowledge to build a library module into a larger system - that mostly means system builders and resellers, but could include technically-skilled end users such as universities, he added.

The Richmond libraries are due out early next year, and M5 has already recruited its first reseller in Viglen, which says it will bundle them with software and its servers. ®

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