The Scalar LTFS (linear tape file system) is the second hardware-based appliance to join this soon-to-be-crowded space. Crossroads Systems originally introduced StrongBox, an LTFS gateway for other vendors' tape libraries, last summer. The StrongBox appliance differs from Quantum's Scalar LTFS in that it writes data to disk first and then to tape. Quantum's Scalar LTFS writes data directly to tape. Other vendors are interested also in LTFS because it makes retrieving data from tape so easy. IBM, HP, and Oracle have software-based implementations and SpectraLogic has LTFS on its roadmap.
The LTFS interface was developed by IBM as a means to access data stored on magnetic tape. It relies on metadata associated with each piece of data and is now supported on LTO-5 media. Data written in the LTFS format can be used to provide direct access to file content data and file metadata, thus making it possible to have a file system view of data stored on the tape.
LTFS is expected to be most used in media and entertainment, education, and high-performance computing, where it can be used for storing and accessing huge amounts of data on tape.
[ Overrun by big data, big backups, big archive, and big cloud? See Storage's 'Big' Overkill: Truth About The Trend. ]
Quantum has three models of its Scalar LTFS appliance that work in concert with its Scalar tape libraries. Each model--one enterprise and two departmental--supports both CIFS and NFS files and can be used to import and export data into Quantum's StorNext File System, where data can be managed for video archiving.
Further, the Scalar LTFS appliances can support multiple tape libraries concurrently and, because it uses a read-ahead cache, multiple users can concurrently access files from the same cartridge.
The Enterprise appliance has 10-GbE and 8-Gb Fibre Channel (FC) connections to the network and supports as many as 32 tape drives. The FC Department appliance has 1-GbE and 8-Gb FC connections to the network and supports as many as eight tape drives. The SAS Department model has 1GbE and 6Gb Serial-Attached SCSI (SAS) connections to the network and supports as many as eight tape drives.
The Scalar LTFS appliances are expected to be available in June of this year, starting at $15,000 for the departmental model.
Deni Connor is founding analyst for Storage Strategies NOW, an industry analyst firm that focuses on storage, virtualization, and servers.
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