In this year’s enterprise server category, Datamation readers by a wide margin selected StorageTek Technology Corp.’s StreamLine SL500 Modular Library System as Product of the Year.
Making a strong showing as runner-up was IBM’s eServer p5 Systems. Other finalists were JBoss Inc.’s JBoss Application Server; Open VMS OS for Alpha, VAX and Integrity Servers from Hewlett-Packard Company; and RUMBA from NetManage Inc.
The SL500 is a modular, rack-mountable tape storage system. It scales from 30 to 570 LTO (Linear Tape-Open) tape cartridge slots and up to 18 tape drives. It has an uncompressed data throughput in excess of two terabytes per hour and total capacity of 100 TB. The units can reside in their own racks, or they can be mixed in with servers or disk storage arrays.
“The SL500 is the densest rack-mount library on the market,” says Jon Benson, StorageTek vice president, Automated Tape Solutions. “Providing up to 100 cartridge slots per square foot of floor space, theSL500 frees up space in customers’ overcrowded datacenters.”
Benson says the SL500 is optimized for midrange computing environments, including remote offices and distributed corporate datacenters. Unlike other tape storage devices which have separate robotics and electronics for each cartridge, the SL500 uses a single set of robotics for all the modules in a rack, simplifying the design and cutting costs.
In addition, since it is modular, customers can just add additional units to meet increasing storage needs, instead of having to overprovision in the beginning or completely replace the system down the road.
“Its expandable drive capacity and use of the latest LTO technology are also ideal for critical server applications with fast data growth rates such as email servers, database applications and enterprise file servers,” Benson says. “Users can add capacity with simple library upgrades, extending the useful life of the equipment and preserving their investments.”
Automaker Kia Motors America Inc. in Irvine, Calif. recently replaced its H-P tape cartridge system with two SL500 drives.
“Kia is a growing company, so our data requirements were growing substantially,” says systems manager John Kienstra. “The number of tapes was growing substantially and the time it took to perform saves was increasing substantially.”
It was starting to take most of the weekend to complete the 1.25TB backups. Also, the equipment was old and Kia began to have more problems with the machines. Further, it became harder to stabilize the equipment.
Since H-P had announced it planned to end support for the device, Kia looked for an alternative solution. At the advice of a local value-added reseller, Stack Computer, it went with the SL500. With StorageTek’s assistance, it took two days to install and configure, but since then it has been operating flawlessly and is achieving Kia’s twin goals of reducing the number of tapes and the backup time.
“We saw our tapes reduce from 20 down to five, and we cut our backup times 25 percent, from 44 hours to 33 hours,” says Kienstra.