Oracle today took the wraps off StorageTek Tape Analytics, new software that aims to give administrators a centralized tape storage management environment that warns of impending failures and downtime.

It’s also the latest sign that the company is not letting the storage platform, which it inherited when it acquired Sun, wither on the vine. Despite lingering worries, Oracle has continued to update the StorageTek line. In 2010, for example, Oracle added LTO-5 support to its tape systems.

Today, the company takes aim at the IBM Crossroads ReadVerify Appliance.

Proactive Tape Storage Management

Developed to run on the company’s StorageTek Modular Library Systems, the new StorageTek Tape Analytics software provides monitoring and performance metrics on tape libraries, drives and media. The goal — apart from “single pane of glass” management over vast tape deployments under — is to prevent problems before they arise.

According to Oracle, the new software will proactively identify issues that can lead to data loss and serve up recommendations drawn from “over 40 years of tape expertise.” Additionally, said Oracle, the software allows IT staffers to quickly “drill-down into detailed drive and media health specifics,” allowing them to keep an eye on their tape infrastructures and assure the availability of data stored in their archives.

The result, according to IDC’s Research Director of Data Protection and Recovery, Robert Amatruda, is a simplified tape management platform that saves time and money. “This proactive approach to tape management will ultimately lead to significant time and cost savings for storage administrators,” he stated.

Oracle claims its StorageTek Tape Analytics with a Sun Fire X2270 M2 server can improve efficiency at half the cost of a comparable IBM Crossroads ReadVerify Appliance.

Those cost savings are achieved, in part, because a single StorageTek Tape Analytics management server can provide a global view of an organization’s tape storage infrastructure, including cloud deployments. “Additional management servers and switches are not required at each library location,” said Oracle, adding that costs remain contained as an organization’s tape systems scale.

Security also factors into Oracle’s quest to one-up IBM and Crossroads Systems on tape management. In its announcement, Oracle singled out StorageTek Tape Analytics’ ability to gather management and health data directly from tape libraries rather than intruding on data paths.

This creates a more secure and responsive tape storage management environment, said Jason Hick, NERSC Storage Systems Group Lead at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs. “StorageTek Tape Analytics gathers statistics outside the data path which is important for data security and eliminating impact on the tape system,” he commented.