Spectra Logic has been around for a long time, but it is really their actions in the recent past that has lead them to such a strong position in the tape market. There are three reasons in my opinion, two that Spectra will admit and one that is my own opinion.



T-Finity


The T-Finity tape library makes other enterprise tape libraries look like amateurs. It is designed for a market that is going to count on tape to not only store the organization's backups but also store the bulk of its archive data as well. The T-Finity is a scaleable library that can start at 24 drives and 800 slots (or 12 drives and 920 slots) and then scale to 48 drives and 30,000 slots (you can give up slots and get more drives if needed). In the future they will be able to take that configuration to 480 drives and over 120,000 slots. It does this scaling in significantly less data center floor space than their competitors. Also keep in mind that as LTO continues to advance generationally the density per slot and speed per drive will increase.



Active Archive


About a year ago Spectra Logic founded the Active Archive Alliance that we reported on in an update from Storage Networking World. Active Archive is essentially putting a file system front end to a tape library. This means that users and applications can interact with the tape library in similar fashion as they do a disk array. This interaction makes libraries ideal not only for the archival of data but also to have tape participate at the very front end of the storage workflow. For everything but high transaction environments this could result in very small primary disk stores all back ended by tape libraries.


This strategy has only become stronger over the last year. More software companies are now providing this file system overlay and tape is becoming more reliable. Spectra Logic claims that current versions of LTO are 700% more reliable than previous generations of DLT and they can move data to the library at 120TB per hour. True that was a super computer, but essentially tape libraries can absorb data as fast as you can send it.


Spectra Logic also claims that they can pull data from the archive and have it be ready to use in 65-75 seconds. That includes the time to retrieve the tape cartridge, load the tape, scan for the data and restore it. It is also important to remember that in the Active Archive model most of these libraries are going to be front ended by disk which will hold the most active data. In those cases access will be at normal disk speeds. How much disk you need depends on your applications access sensitivity.



Storage Swiss Take - It is all about Focus


The final reason for their success is that Spectra Logic essentially stayed focused on what they were good at building; great tape libraries. While they have added disk to their product offering it was to compliment their tape libraries not to replace it. This lack of distraction has lead to innovation in a market that many companies have either written off all together or are just milking for revenue as they stumble their way into the disk market. In my opinion you want storage solutions that are being created to solve todays and tomorrow’s challenges. Notice we said storage solutions, not just tape solutions. With Active Archive it may be time to consider tape libraries for tasks you may had reserved for disk.

George Crump, Senior Analyst

ExecEvent Briefing Note

A while back in a blog I did for Network Computing I proclaimed that tape needed an evangelist, a company that was unabashedly pro-tape. I excluded IBM and Oracle (SUN/STK at the time) because they were too committed to disk and were easily distracted by the million other products that they had. Spectra Logic has taken that role and are tape’s last great hope.


Spectra Logic is being rewarded for that effort. Revenue and profits are growing with increased product sales in both mid-level and enterprise tape libraries. Plus they strike me as a company you would like to do business with, being privately held, 100% employee owned,  profitable for the last five years and 100% debt free.

Spectra Logic is not a client of Storage Switzerland

- Tape’s Last Great Hope

Storage Switzerland was at the ExecEvent and as with other shows we did our best to bring live briefing updates. As is always the case and even more so in the rapid fire format, consider these briefing notes as raw feeds with the goal being to get the information out quickly.