Spectra Logic’s 10 Key Storage Shifts

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The Spectra Logic’s Press and Analyst Day took place last week in Boulder, Colo. The company had enough news, technology and ambition to make it a worthwhile affair.

Here are some of the highlights:

1. The World’s Largest Storage System

The company announced the world’s largest data storage system, the latest generation of the T-Finity which now takes the storage limit of the Spectra Logic tape library well beyond the ExaBye (EB) scale.

The Spectra Logic T-Finity can hold up to 3.2 EB.

“That makes it the highest capacity in the world,” said Molly Rector, chief marketing officer at Spectra Logic. “It has up to 400,000 slots in an eight-library complex with 40 frames per library. That is up from 26 frames and 4 libraries.”

In addition, the system unveiled a raft of new features to improve the dependability of tape.

2. Big Data Means Big Tape

Rector emphasized a key trend–the move ExaByte scale storage to support the enormous needs of big data. The company already has around 150 PB-scale customers, she said, and it has new adopters moving into the EB bracket.

3. Active Archiving Is the Future of Big Data

Archives are generally offline repositories. An Active Archive, on the other hand, uses a meta-data engine to keep data online and accessible. This makes it easy to search and query that repository rapidly–maybe not as fast as local disk, but fast enough for infrequently used data. An Active Archive, then, can be defined as an archive that manages production and archive data in an online accessible environment. Spectra Logic is campaigning this concept in IT and has even formed an Active Archive Alliance with companies such as IBM and Dell.

4. Backup Could Become an Endangered Species

Rector believes that the move toward active archiving signals the end of traditional backup.

“Backup will become obsolete in the traditional sense,” she said.

Instead, she envisions a solid state top tier, a SATA midtier and the remaining 80 percent to 90 percent of data on tape. Instead of backup, two or three copies of tape will be retained.

5. Oracle May Be Undervaluing Tape

Having attended the last two Oracle Open World conferences, tape technology has barely merited a mention. In a snowstorm of press releases and product announcements, not one at the show was about tape innovation. Could Oracle be undervaluing tape within its Big Data strategy? The fact that Spectra Logic just hired two top tape/storage guys from Oracle lends some support to such a notion. One of them talked about the move in terms of coming to a company that offers innovation opportunities in tape.

6. Spectra Logic Is More Than a Tape Vendor

Best known for tape, Spectra Logic also offers a line of Disk Storage Servers known as the nTier 500 and nTier 700. These combine SATA disk with Windows storage server software, and include deduplication.

7. Media and Entertainment Sector Embracing Tape

In fields such as media and entertainment, broadcast and rich media, tape dominates over hard drives (HD). This is a telling trend, as the broadcast field has long used video tape and CDs/DVDs. However, the sheer volume of data and the evolution from analog to digital to HD has necessitated the move onto disk and tape over the past five years. Yet tape accounts for 33 percent market share compared to 25 percent for disk. The fact that the cutting-edge, multimedia field prefers tape to disk is indicative of the health of the industry.

8. Spectra Logic Is Growing Fast

One of the big announcements from the show was the company’s annual growth rate of more than 30 percent. That makes it one of the most rapidly expanding in storage today.

As a testament to that fact, the company opened an 82,000 square foot large campus in 2010, anticipating it would be enough room for another five years. It has already outgrown it. As a result, it just added another 55,000 square feet of expansion space.

9. Spectra Logic Wins Big Account

Although the official announcement will not come for another week, the company gave a sneak peak to a new customer acquisition in Europe–a well known organization that creates vast amounts of data. As a result, it has long been a big user of tape. While not the exclusive tape supplier, Spectra Logic gained some of that heavy duty action by selling its high-end T-Finity product.

10. Tape Is Alive and Well

Rector gave a presentation on the tape sector. It is currently in the midst of rapid growth, particularly in the archiving. So much for long campaign being waged by the “Tape is Dead” brigade.

Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).

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Drew Robb
Drew Robb
Drew Robb is a contributing writer for Datamation, Enterprise Storage Forum, eSecurity Planet, Channel Insider, and eWeek. He has been reporting on all areas of IT for more than 25 years. He has a degree from the University of Strathclyde UK (USUK), and lives in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

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