Tape Storage: Racks And WORMs From Benchmark, Sony


Benchmark Storage Innovations and Sony Electronics this week unveiled tape-storage products that address user concerns regarding backups and restores.

Boulder, Colo.-based Benchmark Monday introduced the ValuSmart Rack 1, a rack-mount tape storage device designed to increase the density of backup capacity in the data center. And on Tuesday, San Jose, Calif.-based Sony Electronics unveiled a new version of its AIT-2 and AIT-3 drives and media designed to allow the media to act as write-once-read-many (WORM) devices for safe data archiving.

The ValuSmart Rack 1 is a 1U rack-mount enclosure incorporating two half-height SCSI ValuSmart Tape 80 drives, or one ValuSmart Tape 80 drive and a second drive using another tape technology. Two SCSI ports enable both drives to run in parallel, reducing the backup time for multiple server environments, according to Benchmark. Upgrades to iSCSI or other interfaces are planned, the company said.

The rack-mount enclosures are slated to be available to OEMs and indirect-sales channels this summer, and pricing with one ValuSmart Tape 80 drive will start at less than $2,000, said Steven Berens, vice president of marketing at Benchmark. The new enclosures will be aimed mainly at midsize businesses and enterprises, although small businesses could also could use the product with application servers as part of a rack-mount bundle, he said.

The ValuSmart Rack 1 introduction comes a week after Benchmark introduced its Partners 4 Benchmark channel program. The initiative includes solution provider access to a dedicated Web site, toll-free tech support, benchmark testing, free literature and targeted market-development fund (MDF) campaigns. The MDFs will be rolled out on a case-by-case basis, he said.

Sony Electronics said it plans to release the new AIT-2 tape drive in June and the AIT-3 drives in July. The modified drives incorporate WORM recording functionality and, when used with specially marked AIT tape cartridges, provide nonrewritable, nonerasable electronic data storage. The drives are compatible with non-WORM media and can tell which type of cartridge is inserted.

Once recorded, AIT WORM media can't be rewritten or reformatted, but data can be appended to the end of previously recorded information, helping to limit accidental or intentional erasure of data, Sony said. The product is suitable for financial institutions or other companies requiring storage of digital data that can't be modified, the company said.