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Spectra Logic Makes A Move For The Enterprise With New Tape Library

Spectra Logic is pulling itself out of its niche tape automation market and moving into the mainstream with the introduction of the Spectra T950 tape library, code-named "Python."

Rather than keep focusing on 8mm tape library technology, which now accounts for only 10 percent of the tape market, the Boulder, Colo.-based company announced this week it will offer a library capable of working with mixed tape media.

The T950 supports a variety of tape drive formats including LTO-2, SDLT, SAIT, and AIT, all of which can be mixed and matched within its cabinet, said Nicholas Harper, vice president of business development.

It scales from two drives and 100 cartridges to 120 drives and 6,000 cartridges, he said.

Rather than each cartridge having its own slot, up to 10 SAIT or LTO-2 cartridges, nine SDLT cartridges, or 12 AIT cartridges, fit in a drawer which Spectra Logic calls "TeraPack." By placing the cartridges in a TeraPack, they can be bulk loaded or unloaded quickly, Harper said.

"If we put the cartridges on the wall inside the unit or on a carousel, we would have the same density as anyone," said Harper. "So we went to drawers. With this concept, we get 1,300 AIT cartridges in a 32-inch wide by 39-inch deep by 2-meter high rack."

Michael Fanelli, western regional manager of Sales Strategies, a Metuchen, N.J.-based solution provider, said the T950's high density and mixed media capability amount to a jump in the evolution of tape libraries, even if the market for libraries of its capacity is relatively small.

"This is a totally different way to store tapes," said Fanelli. "I think it will be the highest density per square-foot of any. . . . There are customers who need terabytes and terabytes and terabytes of storage. There's a spot for it. But the market is much smaller than for midrange tape."

The T950 allows connectivity via SCSI, Fibre Channel, iSCSI, and NDMP protocols, and can be configures for up to 24 virtual library partitions in a single cabinet, with each partition consisting of a minimum of two drives, Harper said.

Pricing for the library, which is currently available, starts at $90,000, including two drives, 150 cartridge spaces, and Fibre Channel controller. A fully configured library can run more than $1 million, said Harper.

About 77 percent of Spectra Logic's revenue comes from the channel, compared to 15 percent from OEMs and 8 percent from direct customers, Harper said. The company currently has more than 200 solution providers worldwide, and is in the process of recruiting more, he said.

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