Imation Plugs Disks Into Tape Libraries

The Oakdale, Minn.-based company, best known as one of the largest suppliers of media for a wide range of tape technologies, on Monday plans to unveil Ulysses, a disk-based removable cartridge.

Ulysses consists of two parts.

The removable disk cartridge physically looks like an LTO tape cartridge and works with existing LTO tape library and autoloader robotic pickers, said John Gaylord, manager of global product strategy for the company.

The second part is the tape emulator, which has the same physical dimension and shape as an LTO tape drive, and fits existing LTO drive slots in tape libraries. Inside are electronics that treat the disk cartridge as if it were a tape cartridge, Gaylord said.

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When installed in nearly any LTO tape library or autoloader, Ulysses appears to the tape backup software as just another LTO drive and cartridge, said Gaylord. "They can be used for daily incremental backups, or for files that will be restored," he said. "But they're not designed for archival. Tape is still best for that."

The big advantage of the Ulysses system over other disk-to-disk backup products is the fact that it adds disk backup to existing tape automation products for just the cost of the emulator and cartridges, Gaylord said.

In addition, they increase the value and performance of existing libraries. And because the disk-based cartridges are removable, they can be rotated off-site for short-term data protection, he said.

Ulysses is expected to be available sometime early next year, said Gaylord. The emulators will be available through tape automation OEMs, while the cartridges should be available to the channel through typical tape cartridge distribution channels, he said. Pricing has yet to be determined, but Gaylord said adding disk-to-disk capability to a typical library will cost between $5,000 and $10,000.

Imation has no plans to make the tape emulators in any form factor other than an LTO tape drive, Gaylord said. However, the emulators can be modified to emulate other types of tape formats, including obsolete formats such as 9-track tape for which drives are no longer available.