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Spectra launches T-Finity, plans beyond

Aims to outshine Sun

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SpectraLogic is claiming the tape library top slot with its 30,000-plus slot T-Finity library, leaving IBM, Quantum, and Sun StorageTek in the dust.

The T-Finity is designed for use in large enterprise IT, high performance computing (HPC), media/entertainment and the federal market, where users need to archive high volume, media-rich data such as research, bio-tech, oil and gas, seismic imaging, surveillance video, media and entertainment, video content and financial applications' data. The volume of such data rules out storing it on disk.

There are dual redundant robots for moving LTO and IBM TS1130 tape cartridges to and from the tape drives. It can hold more than 45PB of LTO-5 stored data in a single system, and over 180PB in a unified complex with 120,000 slots.

IBM's TS1130 drive supports the use of JB/JX media with 1TB capacity, JA/JW media with 650GB and JJ/JR media with 128GB capacity. It also offers a 400 MBps burst data rate. LTO5 offers 1.5TB of native capacity and a 140MB/sec transfer rate.

Spectra says it has the highest storage density available on the market. The T-Finity holds more than twice the data that the next largest library on the market, Sun StorageTek's StreamLine SL8500 with its 10,088 slots in a single library.

With dual robots, and multiple redundant control and communications components the T-Finity is said to be highly available, providing up to 99.99 per cent up time.

The company says it is more energy-efficient than other libraries, using half or less of the electricity consumed per GB stored than its rivals.

Spectra includes features to increase confidence that data written to tape can be accessed in the future. Its Lifecycle Management has proactive library, tape drive and media lifecycle management and reporting to help ensure high availability and data integrity. ScanTape functionality verifies the health of a tape cartridge before writing data to it, and then verifies the data was successfully written to the tape.

T-Finity features include integrated data encryption, library virtualisation and partitioning, and hardware, media and library management software. There is a single management interface using Spectra's BlueScale software.

T-Finity is compatible with all the main archive and backup software applications including: BakBone NetVault, CA ArcServe, and BrightStor, CommVault Sympana, Filetek StorHouse, FrontPorch DIVArchive, IBM HPSS and TSM, Legato DiskExtender and Networker, MassTech MassStore, QStar, Quantum StorNext, SGI DMF, SGL FlashNet, Symantec Backup Exec and NetBackup, Syncsort Backup Express and XenData.

This is a much bigger library than anything SpectraLogic has built before. It's pretty much convinced that IBM's TS1130-based formats will become dominant in the mainframe world, with LTO sweeping the board everywhere else except, possibly, down in the small side of SME where DAT320 has just been launched. It seems clear that it aims to supplant Sun StorageTek as the alternative to IBM tape libraries, for mainframe and large LTO tape shops.

Spectra CEO Nathan Thompson has blogged: "There will only be three or four relevant library manufacturers in three years. The volume and price leader will be BDT, who will continue to sell its products through OEMs such as HP, Dell and Sun. The brand leader will be IBM, who will continue to take share and ultimately dominate mainframe attached tape. The technology leader is and will continue to be SpectraLogic."

That seems clear. He grants that: "There may be a few companies servicing their installed base," and that seems to take care of Quantum and Sun/StorageTek if his view is correct.

The T-Finity library is currently in beta test and will be available in limited quantities in December 2009. List pricing for it, with two LTO4 fibre channel drives, two robots, encryption, Spectra library lifecycle management and BlueScale management software, begins at $218,500. ®

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