Dell tape library is built to scale
PowerVault ML6000 has first-class management features, module structureFollow @infoworld
There was no additional drive on the system I tested, but the expansion module can host more slots and improve performance with four more LTO-3 tape drives. Mounting other tape drives, such as Quantum's DLT (digital linear tape), is a possibility that Dell will consider if there is a demand, I am told.
Doing backups and restores is about as exciting as watching paint dry -- and should stay that way, because excitement is the last thing you want when protecting your data. Of course, a data error or a tape jam can fill a boring and reassuring backup session with fingernail-biting apprehension, but none of that happened during my tests with the ML6000. My Windows backup server had the latest version of Symantec Backup Exec already installed, but the library works with a variety of backup applications that should meet most customers' demands.
Working on a single tape and with a dedicated server, I measured between 60 and 76MBps for both backups and restores. Depending on your environment, you could get closer to the 80MBps max data rate of the IBM tape drive; multiply that by the maximum six drives supported by ML6000 and you have a good amount of data crunching power for your backups.
I can't find much to critique after my evaluation of the ML6000: it's a solid, easy to manage system. The library is based on ADIC technology and on the speedy LTO-3 tapes from IBM, and Dell bundles in a reassuring three-year warranty. The ML6000 doesn't currently do data encryption, so if encryption is a priority you may want to consider other options or wait until the LTO triad's (HP, IBM, and Quantum) efforts to provide native encryption trickle down to this product.
Otherwise, the Dell PowerVault ML6000 is an affordable, ready-to-grow library that should facilitate moving up from autoloaders or older, maxed-out models. It's certainly worth considering if LTO tapes are your cup of tea.