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IBM unveils 'next-generation' tape drive

IBM has introduced what it claims is the highest-capacity and most powerful tape storage device in the world, the TotalStorage Enterprise Tape Drive 3592.

Compared with the specifications of Storage Technology's recently announced T9840C tape drive, IBM's 3592 claims to offer up to 50% more capacity and 33% greater speed at a lower price.

IBM is targeting customers who want the ability to use one tape drive to address both capacity and access-oriented applications. 

"We've heard that customers are in a dichotomy: On one hand, they're being asked to do more with less, shrink infrastructure, consolidate and reduce their costs," said Bruce Masters, senior program manager for IBM Worldwide Tape Marketing.

"And on the other hand, ... they're being asked to store more and more data for longer periods of time, to manage their backup and meet regulatory requirements and to protect those critical assets." 

Masters said the 3592 tape drive will help meet all of those needs. "It will also help customers who have been struggling with managing two types of tape applications - on one hand, they have a need for capacity-oriented applications and a very fast streaming sequential data rate. And on the other hand, they have a need ... very fast access to random files on a tape." 

Customers who have had to use many different types of tape technology to handle that problem can now use just one tape drive because the 3592 has a very fast streaming sequential data rate and randomly locates files very quickly. 

IBM said the 3592 boasts the industry's highest enterprise capacity at 300GB per cartridge and is the fastest tape drive in world, storing data at 40MB per second. 

Masters said IBM will introduce Worm (write-once, read-many) media technology for the 3592 tape drive so that data on the cartridges cannot be overwritten. That capability is of particular interest to customers who need to store large quantities of electronic records to meet new regulatory and internal audit requirements. 

Dianne McAdam, an analyst at Data Mobility Group, said the 3592 has the highest performance and capacity of all the enterprise drives. 

"They did leapfrog what the competition is doing," she added. "It's got much faster data rates, much higher capacity cartridges, much smaller packaging than IBM's previous drive, the 3590, so you can put more tape drive on a library, so you can have more throughput to the library." 

The IBM Enterprise Tape Drive 3592 is compatible with eServer zSeries, Unix, Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. The drive will be generally available for select AIX, Linux and Microsoft Windows platforms tomorrow (Thursday), and for all other supported platforms on 31 October. Prices start at $32,000.

Linda Rosencrance writes for Computerworld


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