Quantum Debuts Scalar LTFS Appliances

By Pedro Hernandez

Quantum is taking the wraps off three new tape storage appliances today during the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference in Las Vegas. Debuting under the Scalar LTFS banner, the systems employ the open source Linear Tape File System to enhance manageability and provide unhindered access to data stored in tape backup and archives.

Slotting between tape libraries and the network, Linear Tape File System (LTFS) library NAS gateway appliances come in three flavors. For SMBs and departmental deployments, there is a 1 GbE (gibabit Ethernet), SAS-based model that handles up to LTO 8 tape drives. Moving up the product line is a 1 GbE, Fibre Channel (FC) version with support for up to eight tape drives.

Topping off the Scalar LTFS line is an enterprise-grade 10 GbE, FC appliance that supports up to 32 tape drives. They support tape library partitioning and ship with up to 2 TB of mirrored, hard drive-based storage that is used "to create a store of the file space for all of the tape cartridges," according to Mark Pastor, Strategic Business Manager for Quantum. The devices also feature optimizations for concurrent file access, which the company is demonstrating at NAB by serving up simultaneous video streams stored on tape.

The company is hoping that with these features and the data portability that they allow, Scalar LTFS will catch the attention of media companies and video production houses struggling with huge data files generated by evolving video technologies like 4K and 3D.

However, according to Pastor, the technology has implications for broader data storage market.

Pastor said that with Scalar LTFS, his company is doing its part to steer the storage industry toward data portability. For content creators and storage administrators on the fence about adopting tape systems, Scalar LTFS' open standards approach allows them to essentially "access tape technology without a backup application," he said.

Future-Proofing Tape with LTFS

As one of the 2012's storage networking trends to watch, LTFS is breathing new life to an old data storage technology. The combination of LFTS and LTO tape's huge appetite for data promises to keep tape in the game for a long time, according to Quantum's Rob Clark, senior vice president of the company's Disk and Tape Data Protection Group.

"It is the most cost-effective means to maintain large amounts of data for long periods. Additionally, with advancements in LTO technology, the LTFS standard is the next step in workflow portability and long-term data retention -- and it broadens the use of tape," he told InfoStor late last year.

That's because with LTFS, storage systems can present a tape cartridge's contents to operating systems, applications and ultimately users in a familiar, branching file system view. With no proprietary or technical barriers standing in the way of users and their data, they can use tape libraries as a backup target with without concerns about backward -- or forward -- file compatibility.

Scalar LTFS goes on sale in June, with prices starting around the $15,000 mark.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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This article was originally published on April 16, 2012