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HP reels in late for LTO-6 party, yells: Tape is BA-ACK

'Tape storage is experiencing a resurgence'

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HP has launched its LTO-6 tape products and rebranded all its tape hardware under the StoreEver name, saying the tape goodies are now an integrated part of its Converged Storage product set. It's late to the LTO-6 party, following IBM, Quantum, Oracle, and SpectraLogic. Better late than never though.

The general manager of HP's Storage Division, ex-3PAR CEO David Scott, said: "Tape storage is experiencing a resurgence."

Using LTO-6's compressed capacity of 6.25TB, HP says it can store up to 44.4PB in one of its 7,104-slot ESL G3 tape library systems using 16 frames. While not in the T-finity, TS3500 or StreamLine class, this is a pretty big mound of data, and HP says it costs only 2.5 cents/GB to store it that way.

HP says it's better to have your tape protection integrated into your other storage products rather than buying a "non-integrated" point-product - essentially following the lead of shampoo and conditioner manufacturers by telling its customers that this product is "best used in conjunction with" its own libraries. To distinguish its LTO-6 gear from everyone else's it has added:

  • A special tape head coating to smooth head-tape interaction.
  • TapeAssure technology to monitor tape drives, libraries and media to ensure they are working properly.
  • A larger roller diameter and a dynamic tape lifter in its LTO-6 drive to minimise unnecessary drag.

To bolster tape's prospects in the eyes of customers, HP cites an independently funded study by The Clipper Group (PDF) on the total cost of ownership (TCO) of long-term archiving of digital data. This concluded that “the cost of energy alone for the average disk-based solution exceeds the entire TCO for the average tape-based solution.”

So tape is significantly cheaper than disk for archival data and there is a resurgence in tape. Will HP develop a high-end tape library to address the same enterprise, private and public cloud tape markets as IBM's TS3500, Oracle's StreamLine 8500 and SpectraLogic's T-finity? That'll be a measure of how committed it is to tape storage and how strongly it views tape's long-term prospects as an archive medium.

Will the archival high-end tape library market support four suppliers? IBM has the tape mainframe market in its base to rely on, even though Oracle's is in their with the StreamLine product. Both these products and the T-finity from privately owned SpectraLogic are mature, and HP would have to bring something special to this product party rather than just developing just another mega-slot, me-too product.

Perhaps integrating a disk-based virtual tape library with a real tape library, and presenting it as a single virtual resource might be productive? Possibly an object storage facility and tape library integration might have some scope? LTFS integration may also present a development avenue.

Various other HP storage products integrate with the StoreEver product set - StoreOnce Catalyst, Data Protector, StoreOnce Backup, StoreAll Storage, and CommandView Tape Library for example. The leading backup software products all support StoreEver products, says HP.

The StoreEver portfolio of LTO-6 tape media, tape drives and tape automation products is available now at a starting price of $3,999 for an StoreEver LTO-6 tape drive and $8,600 for an StoreEver LTO-6 tape library. ®

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