SPECTRA BLOG


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.
Signed,
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


Why tape technology continues to be FAR-OUT, and other observations from SNW

I attended Storage Networking World Fall 2009 in Scottsdale, AZ earlier this week.   Here are a few of my observations.

The SNW conference was held at the Scottsdale Marriot Desert Ridge Resort which is the location of the Wildfire Golf Club (one of my favorite  golf courses).    Fortunately, I was able to resist the temptation to golf and attended several sessions, attended the trade show and also presented at the conference.    The hot topics of the conference included virtualization, cloud computing, deduplication and security.   As I caught up on email during breaks in the lobby near multiple racks of disk arrays, I was reminded of another ‘hot’ topic – green storage.     I also attended speech by inventor and visionary Ray Kurzweil on the exponential growth of information technology.  His speech was very inspirational about the postive impact of information technology growth on the human condition.  Although inspired, the backup and storage administrators with whom I spoke were also challenged by the daunting task of how to keep up with this tremendous data growth.   As I prepared for my presentation on “Tape Without Pain”, I was pleased that Spectra Logic has solutions to address many of these challenges with our Spectra TSeries Libraries which offer scalability, easy-to-use library management and encryption along with high efficiency (both in terms of space and energy utilization).   Spectra’s nTier Deduplication disk solutions also offer solutions to assist with many of the data growth challenges through high performance, scalability, replication and seamless ties to tape.   As I delivered the presentation, I was pleasantly surprised by the high percentage of tape users in the audience.  There were no hecklers and I was largely preaching to the choir.   The audience resonated with the presentation’s claim that tape will continue =&0=& into future since it is:   a)=&1=&ast – Transfer rates up to 240MB/sec with LTO-4 make it plenty fast for backup and archive solutions. b)=&2=&ffordable – Low acquisition costs, low operating costs (power & cooling), and low upgrade costs. c)=&3=&eliable – On-going improvements in drives, libraries and media make it a very reliable backup solution.   The audience also highlighted several other reasons they will continue to use tape.   d)Reliable portability – Tape offers true backup portability to an off-site location – which is required for business continuity and disaster recovery. e)Bandwidth TCO – While deduplication with replication is a solid solution for offsite backups, OC-3 lines are not free.  Nothing matches the bandwidth and affordability of a truck with LTO tapes. f)Investment protection – The LTO roadmap along with backwards compatibility make tape a much better solution for long-term backup and archive applications.   As I left Scottsdale, I made a final stop to say goodbye to one of my temptresses.   Unfortunately, she was not open for business.  The sign on the front door said: "TPC Stadium Course closed for overseeding Oct 12 to Oct 18."   Looks like I made the right choice by attending the SNW conference.

Tape is Cheaper than Disk. Honest. It just is.

Dear Ms. Meade:
Why would you ever recommend tape when disk is cheaper?
Signed,
I Know More Than You Do

Dear Ms. I Know More:
A little misinformation is a dangerous thing. It has become nearly axiomatic that "disk is cheaper than tape.”  This is simply unwarranted faith in the song of the disk-only vendor. The fact is, tape is cheaper than disk.

You appear to be paying far too much attention to disk-only vendors, a common problem these days. Disk itself has some marvelous qualities, which is why Spectra Logic has developed such a superior nTier disk product that is so much more affordable than the disk it competes against. Still, in the contest of cost per gigabyte between disk and tape, tape beats out disk by a significant margin. Read More


As someone that loves things to make noise

As someone that loves things to make noise, and go fast, I am always on the hunt for “more”.  Unfortunately, more can be expensive.  I am always looking for ways to make my toys faster, stronger, and of course cooler.  The problem is it normally costs a lot to get just a little improvement.  Whenever I stumble across “free” performance in a product, I feel like I have just won something.  It seemed appropriate to me that while I was on a flight coming home from indulging in one of my passions last week at the Reno Air Races (the fastest motorsport in the world) Spectra Logic  announced some new nTier Deduplication models that are all about more – more performance, more capacity and more value.   riff raff 2009.JPG   The first thing most people notice about the new nTier v160 and v320 is how they fit our model lineup.  They do fit in nicely between the  nTier Classic models, addressing the needs of customers that fell in the gap between them, although that really does not tell the whole story.  Based on the nTier 500 chassis, the v160 and v320 carry with them the blistering performance of 500MB/s backup speeds.  When looking at competing models, they offer more capacity, and the best part is—wait for it— they cost a lot LESS.  In one case, less than half the price of a popular competing box.  I wish I could find that in a car part.   In the last week, I have talked with sales reps, partners and customers about the new nTier models.  The comments remain consistent; the IT industry continues to seek ways to do more with less.  Deduplication can help there, but can be cost prohibitive.  The v160 and v320 help do more with less by providing the superior performance needed, with more capacity at a lower cost.  Backup windows will not grow, and often will shrink when the nTier becomes the initial target.  Automated replication and archive tape creation reduce the man hours needed to manage repetitive backup tasks.  This is more value.   I am sure the racers at Reno wish they could find such a deal. It is like JATO for backup!  

It may be cloudy at Sun, but all is clear at Spectra

A myriad of mergers, acquisitions and bankruptcies in the backup and archive hardware market has made customers feel they are on thin ice when making long-term hardware investments. The latest, and potentially most dramatic, the Oracle acquisition of Sun, is affecting the set of customers who already had to endure the buy-out of StorageTek by Sun. This same set of customers is once again faced with questions surrounding product roadmap, support contract costs, and product upgrade availability. They no longer are doing business with a storage hardware innovator; instead they are forced into doing business with a server/database innovator. The idea of an acquisition of Sun by Oracle just may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back on the customers’ willingness to continue to go with the change with no voice in the direction of their products. Read More


Top five observations from IBC 2009 in Amsterdam

Spectra Logic recently returned from IBC2009, where we announced a major customer win: Discovery Communications. Here are the observations we made at the event:

1.Attendance was quite good. It was down only 7% from the previous year, which is modest in comparison to other shows these days. 2.Those who attended were top decision makers with active projects. Sales. We are seeing an increase in market activity despite the poor economy, and have a large pipeline of active archive projects. We see a very active market and are beginning to see a positive energy to release POs as the economy improves. 3.There are rumors of a location change in 2010. A fresh location would help draw new attendees and generate new energy around IBC 4.The amount of content in the media and entertainment market continues to grow year-over-year. In order to remain competitive, a number of Spectra and non-Spectra customers are converting old analog content into digital formats. This enables them to repurpose content for delivery via newer and more popular mediums such as IP and mobile, hence providing new revenue opportunities.   5.The move to a digital workflow environment is no longer cutting edge. The masses are moving to digital, file-based workflow environments and archive has become an essential piece of that puzzle.  Overall, a great show and I am looking forward to next year!

Ms. Meade E.A. Deftly Strikes Again

Dear Ms. Meade:
My tapes are defective. My supplier says that tapes are just like that and she can’t do anything about it.

I am sick of incomplete backups due to failed tapes. What should I do?
Signed,
Tape-Hater

Dear Tape-Hater:
As I understand it, your tapes are bad and you continue to buy them from whomever. Please consider that there may be some correlation between the source of the media and its quality problems. Perhaps we should examine some alternatives. One answer seems a little obvious, but I shall state it nonetheless.

Please investigate Spectra Certified Media with a lifetime guarantee*. Also, evaluate the possibility of using Spectra libraries, which tell you which tapes are failing so you can remove them from circulation before data is at risk or backups fail. That will free you to find something else to do with the time heretofore dedicated to tracking defective tape.  And perhaps you will cease to hate tape, and instead love Spectra Logic. I certainly do. (After all, they pay me.) Read More