Tape Technology Leaps Forward in the 3rd Era (Horison)

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Executive Summary

In recent years, the general perceptions of tape have become outdated and are not current with the latest developments and significant improvements that have occurred in the tape industry. These developments include longer media life, significantly improved drive and library reliability, higher drive duty cycles and much faster data rates than any previous generation of tape technology. Tape cartridge capacities have now exceeded those of disk drives. There are two companies offering enterprise class tape drives.

They are Oracle's StorageTek T10000 and T9840 drive families and IBM's TS11x0 family. Along with the popular LTO drive family in the midrange market, these drives currently offer between 75 gigabytes (T9840D), 1 terabyte (T10000 and TS1130), and 1.5 terabytes (LTO-5) native capacities per cartridge and up to 3 terabytes compressed at 2:1. LTO has become the most popular midrange and high-end technology for open systems. LTO is now in its 5th generation with LTO-5 and another 3 generations have been defined. LTO drives, produced by Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Quantum and Tandberg, represent sales of $534.31 million, out of an overall enterprise and midrange tape industry (drives, libraries and media) that exceeded $3.1 billion in 2009.

These enterprise and midrange-class product families, produced by six companies, are the most widely used tape product lines and are highlighted in this paper. Low-end and older tape product families such as DLT, 8mm, Travan and DDS continue to post sharp declines.

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