Storage Notes: Every ISP Will Need a Tape Library

ISPs handle a significant quantity of digital data every day, and storage companies have long seen them as potentially lucrative customers. The experience of Ridgecrest, Calif.-based Indian Wells Valley Internet Service Provider, however, suggests that ISPs will only need high-end storage products when they enter the webhosting business.

The company’s old tape drive, a Seagate SCSI tape drive with 24 GB of capacity, had been sufficient for all dialup data backup needs, said Dan Wood, founder and president of the ISP. He said that the company’s data backup needs rose exponentially, however, when it entered the webhosting business.

“We needed a changer or we would have had to change tapes all the time,” said Wood. “We were backing up 120 GB per day, and that’s just the websites.”

The ISP was using a NAS
unit from Network Appliance. “We needed a tape drive that supported our NAS unit,” said Wood. “We’re also pleased to be able to use the Network Data Management Protocol (NDMP), which is a data dump, not file-by-file, and is therefore faster. Our tape drive is connected directly to the NAS unit.”

The company purchased a Spectra 2K tape library. The library uses Sony‘s
AIT system to store data on 8mm cassette tapes (Spectra Logic was the first company to automate storage to Sony’s tape system).
The ISP’s tape drive uses 50 GB tapes. The tape library can hold 15 tapes at any time.

Asked if he had any advice for other ISPs, Wood said, “This product has been flawless, but I’m not an expert because I’ve only bought one tape drive.”

You’d think that the unit’s 750 GB of uncompressed data backup and 225 GB of throughput per hour would be enough storage and throughput, but Wood said he was already looking at adding more data backup. “I would have one piece of advice for ISPs: When you’re buying a data backup solution, you need to make
sure it has the capacity you’ll need in the future,” he said.

Spectra Logic has just released iSCSI-compatible
tape drives. We expect to speak to an ISP, CLEC, or webhost using them in May or June.

This story originally appeared on ISP-Planet.

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