HP Unveils LTO-5 Tape Storage Products

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HP (NYSE: HPQ) this week rolled out new data tape libraries, drives and cartridges for the new LTO-5 standard.

LTO-5 offers twice the capacity and at least 50 percent more performance than LTO-4 while also offering data encryption. HP says its LTO-5 Ultrium data cartridges can store as much as 3TB of compressed data in less than three hours using 6-gig SAS or 8-gig Fibre Channel.

HP is also offering new TapeAssure software that monitors the status, performance, utilization and health of drives and backup media. The downloadable free software identifies potential errors before they occur, HP says.

In addition to drives and cartridges, HP also announced the HP StorageWorks MSL midrange tape library, with pricing starting at $9,000. An enterprise library will arrive this summer. Tape drives list at $3559 and cartridges at $168.50.

HP is the latest tape vendor to announce LTO-5 products, following Quantum (NYSE: QTM) and Overland (NASDAQ: OVRL). A number of other vendors have also passed LTO-5 compliance testing, including Fujifilm, Hitachi Maxell, Imation, Sony and TDK. HP, IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Quantum are the lead companies behind the LTO program.

Despite the emergence of disk backup with deduplication as a competitor to tape, Simon Watkins, worldwide product marketing manager for HP tape products, said tape remains a $3 billion market that "still has a very important and relevant role to play."

Watkins expects significant adoption of LTO-5 among LTO-3 users, the biggest LTO installed base, as many users upgrade every other generation. LTO-5 is backward compatible with older LTO products, so users can get the benefits of LTO-5 for the cost of the drives and media, he said.

Tape also remains a reliable and low-cost form of data protection, Watkins said, with 250,000 hours meantime between failure at a 100 percent duty cycle, and costs of around 5 cents a gigabyte.

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