'Downsizers' lead charge for DLT

'Downsizers' lead charge for DLT

By Gerard Knapp

The Quantum and DLT story is indicative of the fluctuating storage market. The US company Quantum purchased the DLT (digtial linear tape) technology relatively cheaply (at least to HP executives) from Digital Equipment, and then further developed the technology to improve recording densities.

At the same time, the market developed a need for a tape backup solution that resides above the 4mm DAT format market and below the large IBM 3480 and 3490 tape silos.

This fast-growing market (a bonus for Quantum) can be called the "downsizers", said Robert Hill, marketing manager for HP's Computer Peripherals division in Bristol. Downsizers are large organisations which have storage requirements (between 10 and 70GB per day, backing up at 1.25MB/second or faster) and are looking to use improved technology to cut back on hardware and operating costs,

The "downsizers" are complimented by the "upsizers" (small business users enjoying growth) and "optimizers", those medium-sized businesses which are aiming to expand.

4TB by Q4 '97

Later this year, HP expects to release a DLT library system (the DLT 7000) using drives made by Quantum which can store close to four terabytes of data using inbuilt compression.

DLT offers current performance of 3MB/second transfer rate using compression and file access time of 68 seconds, as well as longer head and media life.

DLT libraries are finding acceptance among organisations that are moving from large, centralised computing systems to extensive client/server networks with high end PC servers and superservers.

Meanwhile, the majority of the market is served by the DAT-based DDS technology. Originally developed for digital audio recording, the DAT drives feature a rotating recording head. While providing excellent read and write speeds (currently 2MB/sec using compresion), the technology also has read-after-write error correction. The more sophisticated drive and rotating recording head means means that media costs can be kept lower due to lower tolerances on the cassettes.

HP continues to develop the DAT-based DDS format, with the release this month in Australia of the DDS-3 drives and tapes (offering 24GB per tape using compression).

At a special press briefing in Phuket, Thailand, the market development manager of HP's Bristol-based Computer Peripherals division, Andy Buckley, said tests by HP on the planned DDS-4 drive had successfully achieved 24GB of native storage (48GB using compression).

It's expected that this drive will be released next year, and could pose a serious alternative for some higher-end backup sites.

Positioned below the DDS market is the stationary head Travan technology, marketed by HP under the Colorado product name. The Travan products are aimed at the more price-sensitive owners of low-end servers and use the more expensive QIC cartridge.

The best performer of the Travan drives is the new TR-4 (used in the Colorado T4000s by HP), which offers 4GB of native or uncompressed storage per cartridge and write speeds of up to 62MB per minute.

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