Quantum upgrades tape storage line

Quantum will announce a firmware upgrade for its super digital linear tape (SDLT) products that will create a write-once,...

Quantum will announce a firmware upgrade for its super digital linear tape (SDLT) products that will create a write-once, read-many (Worm) capability designed to help users preserve data as part of regulatory compliance efforts.

The DLTIce firmware is available via a free download from Quantum's website. The new offering supports its SDLT600 drives and SDLT II cartridges, the company's latest tape technology. But a spokesman said Quantum is considering the idea of offering DLTIce across its entire line of DLT and SDLT devices.

Sony has also added Worm support to its Advanced Intelligent Tape and Super AIT products in March, and IBM and Storage Technology offer the feature in their enterprise-class drives.

But Sony, IBM and StorageTek require users to buy new cartridges that are preconfigured for Worm, said Robert Amatruda, an analyst at IDC.

In addition, DLT and SDLT tapes are used much more widely than AIT and SAIT devices are, according to Amatruda. He said Quantum's technologies accounted for about 40% of the $821m (£442m) market for midrange tape storage last year, compared with 8% for Sony's product line.

Tape drives which support Worm could be a boon for users who want to better safeguard archived data, Amatruda added.

"More and more companies are interested in things like compliance and unalterable data protection products," he said. "You don't have to buy and support a separate device that will enable Worm capability."

Yusuf Karacaoglu, Partners in Health's IT and networking co-ordinator, said he is looking forward to downloading DLTIce to help protect patient research documents, which he backs up onto SDLT600 drives.

The non-profit organisation, which provides free health care in Latin America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and the US, uses a separate server loaded with software from AuthentiDate Holding's DocStar unit, which makes a scanning device for turning paper documents into electronic records that can be stored on optical disks, hard drives and other storage media.

"The good part is we don't have a lot of money to spend on this technology, so [DLTIce] meets our expectations at the moment," Karacaoglu said.

The DocStar system informs him if a document has been changed, but it does not provide Worm capabilities which prevent data from being overwritten, he added.

DLTIce lets users designate new or existing tape cartridges as Worm media when they are being initialised. The firmware then creates a unique electronic identification number for each tape and blocks any overwrites of data, Quantum said.

The technology cannot prevent data from being erased or scrambled. But if that happens, the identification number is still stored on the cartridge, revealing that it previously held data, the company said.

Lucas Mearian writes for Computerworld

Read more on IT strategy