Sun down. Spectra Up

The sun rises in the east and sets in the west — consistently. Like clock-work. It’s a good thing. You can depend on it.

Sun, however, rises and sets almost indiscriminately and with little consistency. Except that it seems to be setting farther than anyone imagined. With every gyration, Sun sheds talent. It’s the kind of talent that made its StorageTek products a force in the tape storage industry well before Sun bought them. It’s the same talent that helped put large, automated tape libraries on the map.

Storage customers are often tied to the rise and fall of a vendor when it experiences takeover mania. Unfortunately, many customers of StorageTek experienced a certain level of discomfort when Sun bought STK in 2005. Sun customers are facing uncertainty again as Sun is being acquired by Oracle after a false start by IBM to get the merry-go-round going. Vendor stability in situations like this has a tendency to go in the ditch, putting customers’ storage infrastructure and their critical data at risk.

Fortunately for those Sun customers owning large tape libraries who are stuck on this dizzy ride, another vendor is more than capable of stepping in to fill the pending void as the STK line is acquired once again within about a 4 year span. Heck, one might wonder if this spate of buy / sell activity surrounding STK storage may become another Olympic demonstration sport in 2012? Read More

Introducing Spectra TFinity – Welcome to Infinite Possibilities

Today marks the 30th anniversary of Spectra Logic Corporation.  We’ve evolved over the years from an AIT-only shop, to a half-inch player, to… well, I’m getting to that.  As part of our celebration, we’re also announcing the most ambitious, market-moving, storage changing endeavor we’ve ever undertaken…  No.  We’re not buying Sun.

Instead, we’re delighted to let you know that the latest edition of a long and field-proven line of libraries from Spectra has a new member in the family: The Spectra TFinity.

TFinity leverages much of the technology inherent in the TSeries family of libraries that have made them so successful, then takes it to the next level.  Size matters and that’s where we’ve gone. Read More

Almost Here: Famous Days in History

November 10, 1785:  Netherlands and France sign treaty… ahhhh, storage for all.

November 10, 1801:  Kentucky outlaws dueling… No more fighting for storage!

November 10, 1919: 1st observance of National Book Week… Need lots of storage for all those books.

November 10, 1946:  Communists win many seats at French parliamentary election…  Equal storage for everybody!

November 10, 1950:  Nobel for literature awarded to William Faulkner… Bill knows literature.  We know storage!

November 10, 1954:  Lieutenant Colonel John Strapp travels 632 MPH in a rocket sled… That’s fast.  So is our storage.
November 10, 1969: 
"Sesame Street" premieres on PBS TV… Simple.  Everybody gets it.  Just like our storage. Read More

Is tape at its inflection point?

Is tape dead?
This question continues to spur conversations that won’t seem to die. The industry, and primarily the disk players, continue to look for tape’s signs of life or demise and yet the market it still a multi-billion-dollar business – with more relevance now than in the last decade— according to Enterprise Strategy Group’s Mark Peters.

Frankly, if you dedicate your business to delivering solutions that meet customer requirements for today and the distant future, there will be a market, and we are committed to being the best at tape libraries.

Backup has evolved.
So back to the “tape is dead” conversation. I agree with a comment that Jerome Wendt recently made in his post that stated tape is at an inflection point. I agree that the needs for tape have evolved much like the needs for disk and would like to elaborate on what we are seeing at Spectra Logic. Read More

What’s the Link between Katy Perry and Tape?

The other day while I was in town meeting with a customer I walked past a poster advertising the MTV Europe Music Awards, taking place in Berlin in a couple of days. Once I’d gotten the image of host Katy Perry out of my mind, I thought about how important the media sector has become for us.  

The switch to digital media formats has forced media organisations to reconsider and subsequently rearchitect their storage strategies, which has obviously been great for the industry. However, not everyone has lucked out and cashed in. The media sector has some very specific needs, many of which can’t be met by any old disk array.   One of the big factors for media companies – particularly with the digital switchover – is capacity. An hour of high definition video (or even 3 minutes of Katy Perry shaking her stuff) requires a significant chunk of storage, so costs can quickly start to mount as a company gets into hundreds of hours of footage.  More mature companies with a great deal of old film to convert to digital are particularly conscious of the whole $/GB equation.   Unlike those organisations forced to archive material by legislation, media and entertainment companies do it for a very different reason – revenue. A whole industry has grown up around packaging footage from sports, show business etc. as bite size chunks and “highlights” packages for syndication and re-use.   You can also never tell what seemingly irrelevant footage might turn out to be important – think about the classic clip of Clinton and Lewinski shaking hands that was played the world over after that particular scandal blew up. Someone must have spent ages poring through archives to dig up that little gem – but that effort probably translated into huge revenues. Take the recently released Michael Jackson film “This is it” – could the makers have ever known how much footage from rehearsals might end up being worth? That material went from DVD Bonus Feature material to being turned into a feature film which grossed over $34million at the USA Box Office in its first week alone.   Clearly we think that tape is the medium of choice when archiving huge amounts of footage and I would highlight the interesting project undertaken by NASCAR to archive more than 50,000 hours of footage on Spectra Logic’s libraries as evidence of this. A number of other large media and entertainment companies have also turned to tape in order to protect their content.   This vertical market is incredibly exciting and is very much at the forefront in terms of innovation where storage is concerned. Any IT department with significant archiving requirements could learn from media / broadcast companies, many of whom would happily proclaim (to butcher Katy Perry’s original lyrics somewhat), “I Tried Out Tape, And I Liked It…”

Pay Attention

The Oracle says the Sun isn’t setting in the west?    Right.    I doubt the earth’s rotation is going to change any time soon to make that statement factual. Fortunately, the twilight that’s fast approaching for much of Sun STK’s legacy tape hardware and the customers who own it will hasten the dawn of a new day in tape automation for much of the tape storage market.

We’re working hard at Spectra to make sure that tape users get to see the light. I can’t tell you what the result of that hard work is… yet. However, in just a couple of weeks we’ll let you in on the secret! Read More

Data Breaches Resurface in the Headlines

It seems like not a week goes by without a story hitting the headlines about sensitive customer data being compromised in one way or another. If it’s not a laptop getting lost it’s a handheld device getting left in a taxi – in fact nowadays you can just pop onto Ebay to buy the bank details of a million or so people . These breaches of security are damaging for the corporations involved and extremely disconcerting for the people whose personal details are compromised, but they also raise serious questions about how companies protect data once it leaves the corporate network. Read More

700 Percent Improvement in Tape Technology? Why, Yes.

Dear Ms. Meade:
I don’t see how you can talk about tape without pain. I’ve been dealing with tape for ten years, ever since we got a big library installed, and I have had nothing but problems. Tape without pain? Hah.
You’ve Got to be Kidding

Dear Mr. Kidding,
Did you know that Model T’s were hard to start? Is that the problem you have with your car today?

For that matter, do you find that your ten-year-old computer runs too slowly and just doesn’t have enough memory?

Complaining about antique technology, such a a ten-year-old library, does seem rather silly—so you might want to update your data center and get some current tape and library technology.  The advances over that last decade in tape and its automation are substantial. For example, did you know that with LTO, technological advances have improved tape reliability* by more than 700% over the past decade? Read More

Storage Expo 2009 Recap

We’ve just recovered from the exertions of Storage Expo 2009 – a show which has always been one of the better attended shows in the industry’s calendar. But what of this year’s show? Well certainly the financial climate and its impact on IT spending has been a major talking point over the last 12 to 18 months – but has the industry weathered the storm? According to reports – http://bit.ly/15Vm1b – there are some doubts as to whether we are over the worst of it, but the prevailing attitude of vendors attending the show this year seemed to be optimistic. End-users at the show, if not ready to put pen to paper immediately, were certainly talking about committing budget in the next three to six months. Read More