Enterprise storage planning requires a great deal of insight into the future storage needs of your business. If you overestimate, you end up wasting money on an expensive, large-scale storage solution. If your company buys too little capacity to start with, it will have to replace libraries or buy new ones rather than add tapes to existing empty slots.
Storage vendors can address the challenge of storage planning by building as much flexibility into their solutions as possible. Advanced Digital Information Corp. (ADIC) does just that with its Scalar 10K enterprise tape library. The solution’s level of flexibility, coupled with its support for multiple media types and its host of high-availability features, makes it a storage solution that your company should consider deploying.
The Scalar 10K’s most unique feature isn’t a technological advance – it’s how the product is sold. Similar to turning on features in a software package, the capacity of customers’ Scalar 10K libraries can be increased by simply entering a software key purchased from ADIC. Customers receive the library with more slots – up to 1,800 more – than they pay for, the additional slots being disabled until the customer enters the key. As the library reaches full capacity, ADIC will install additional slots that can be brought online as needed.
The Scalar 10K currently supports several tape formats including LTO (Linear Tape-Open), AIT (Advanced Intelligent Tape), and SDLT (Super Digital Linear Tape). In its base configuration, the library, which measures 4.3 feet deep, 10.5 feet long, and 6.4 feet tall, can support as many as 12 full-height (LTO and SDLT) drives or 24 half-height (AIT) drives. The library can be expanded to support as many as 324 full-height or 648 half-height drives and 9,582 LTO, 15,885 AIT, or 8,014 SDLT cartridges. This gives the library a maximum capacity of between 800TB and 950TB of data, depending on the cartridge type.
With their complex mechanics, tape libraries always will be more failure-prone than disk arrays. However, ADIC has taken several steps to help ensure the reliability of the Scalar 10K. Power delivery to the unit has been engineered to be highly fault-tolerant. Redundant power is supplied to the drives, the controller, and the robot.
Currently, the robot is the most significant point of failure. It runs down an aisle in the middle of the library and picks tapes from slots in either side. This point of failure will be diminished in future releases of the 10K with the addition of carousels that will hold the tapes and an optional second robot.
ADIC has bolstered SAN (storage area network) support across its product line with the addition of a SAN router and the ADIC SAN Director, management software that is sold separately. This solution provides one-stop shopping for a SAN-integrated tape library that is compatible with the myriad SAN configurations found in the market today.
We examined a Scalar 10K with LTO drives and cartridges at ADIC’s Englewood, Colorado, facility. The 10K was connected to a Sun Enterprise 250 server running Veritas Netbackup software. Veritas is certified on the library and was able to load and unload tapes and perform backups as does any other library. We found the 10K to be easy to access with relatively simple mechanics. Tape loading is facilitated through tape input/output slots that can be flexibly configured. The 10K’s control panel is easily accessed, and a module that provides remote access to the control panel via a Web browser is set to be released soon.
All in all, we found the Scalar 10K to be an impressive tape solution that takes a big step toward delivering enterprise storage planners the flexibility they need to ensure a smooth storage path for their businesses. If you have the need – and the cash – for tape storage approaching 1PB, the Scalar 10K should be on your short list.
Hammond (firstname.lastname@example.org), a former senior analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center, is a freelance writer and consultant in Denver.