HP, ADIC Add Intelligence To Tape Drives And Libraries

Hewlett-Packard last week added a layer of its intelligence to its tape drives to make them more compatible with SANs. Advanced Digital Information Corp. (ADIC), meanwhile, also last week expanded the monitoring and alerting capabilities of its Scalar i2000 library.

HP introduced an embedded, integrated interface controller which sits between tape drives a SAN in its ESL 9000 tape library family to manage and simplify shared access in the storage network, said Rick Luttrall, director of nearline product marketing for HP's Network Storage Solutions group.

In the past, the debate over attaching tape drives to a SAN centered around whether to use an all-Fibre Channel tape library or a library that connects Fibre Channel tape drives to the SAN via a SCSI router, said Luttrall.

"We put intelligence in front of the tape drives," he said. "This shields the drives from changes in the SAN. For instance, if a customer moves to a 4-Gbps Fibre Channel architecture, he just needs to change the controller while keeping the same drives. Or moving from SCSI drives to Fibre Channel drives can be done without reconfiguring the entire SAN."

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Libraries with the new controllers, which are purchased separately as an option, are currently available. A separate interface manager, which configures a SAN based on knowledge of the network and the tape library and has an on-board Flash memory to maintain a persistent extended history of library and network health, is expected to be released in September.

About half of HP's ESL 9000 tape libraries are sold via solution providers, Luttrall said.

ADIC's Scalar i2000 library now has technology to gather and analyze drive and media status information in order to differentiate between drive and media faults, company executives said. It also includes a mechanism to actively warn users when tape cartridges are approaching the end of their active life, thereby cutting the need for service calls and reduce system time, the executives said.

A company spokesperson said the Scalar i2000 is currently configured with LTO tape drives but a SDLT 320 version is expected in the near future.

The HP and ADIC products follow the recent unveiling by Quantum of DLTSage, a technology available on its DLT drives which automatically discovers the source of a problem with a drive or tape and passes the information to the application's console or to the management console of third-party storage management software.

The ADIC spokesperson said the company expects to incorporate DLTSage into its Scalar i2000 libraries in the future.