HP, Quantum represent latest tape technology
Latest generations of LTO and SDLT prove speedy and capaciousFollow @infoworld
Certance has loaded its LTO3 tape unit with a handful of features that improve the cartridge life and should grant more reliable backups running at the fastest rate the host sustains. Probably most interesting about these new features is that they don’t require any special settings; the tape drive will automatically “do the right thing.”
For example, from a range of 13 speeds, the tape automatically chooses the best match according to how fast or how slow the host is. Also, in case of power failure, the CL 800 uses a small reserve of electricity to automatically stop the medium and maintain the proper tension.
During a backup the tape automatically verifies the data at four different stages. Moreover, the CL 800 has a dedicated and isolated chamber for the tape, which according to Certance extends the cartridge life to 500 backups, twice the competitors’ cartridge life.
Installing the CL 800 isn’t difficult, but Certance bundles a CD so loaded with extensive documentation, drivers, and diagnostic tools that an incorrect setup is virtually impossible.
Perhaps Quantum will extend its diagnostic apps to also support LTO drives, but I didn’t miss that in my test. The TapeRx application bundled with the tape covers all the diagnostic tasks a user may need.
For example, I was able to see and change tape settings such as automatic compression or speed, check the tape log for errors, and run short read-and-write tests. My tape seemed to be working well, so I moved to install the bundled version of NetVault and run some backups.
For consistency, I attached the Certance unit to the same HP server I used for testing the HP tape drive, and I ran the backups using the same HP Data Protector. As with the Ultrium 960, I expected the CL 800 to be faster than the SDLT 600, but the difference in performance was still striking. For example, the CL 800 crunched a 315GB backup from 16 volumes in less than one hour, finishing almost 20 minutes faster than the SDLT 600. However, the Certance still lagged behind the Ultrium 960 by 15 minutes.
In daily operations, saving that time makes a big difference, which — together with other friendly features of the CL 800 — makes the drive a great value.
Quantum SDLT 600
For my review I received from Quantum a single SDLT 600 tape drive, a shoe-box-shaped, 12-inch-deep unit with an almost square section roughly 7 inches wide. The clean front displays the cartridge opening, three control LEDs, and a tape-eject button. The SCSI connectors, address selector, power connector, and power switch are located in the back.
I didn’t like that the cartridge slot lacks a dust-protection cover. Although, to be fair, no problems emerged during the months I had the unit in my lab, and the other two drives in this group have a similarly unprotected slot. Interestingly, the front of the unit hosts an infrared port accessible for diagnostics from properly configured devices.
For this line of tapes Quantum has developed DLTSage, a unique set of management applications that simplify diagnostic and administrative tasks from a variety of platforms including PDAs and other infrared devices.
Part of DLTSage are the iTalk and xTalk apps. The first connects to the drive via an infrared port; the latter communicates via standard host connections. Both programs are downloadable from the Quantum site and make possible the collection of a wealth of diagnostic data that simplifies troubleshooting and predicting hardware or media faults.