IBM is the Number 1 tape hardware manufacturer, developing and outselling all other brands. This makes IBM tape a great opportunity for tape resellers whilst providing your customers with the best possible product for them.

IBM has always developed its own technology – 3570, 3590, 3592 & LTO (as part of the LTO consortium). It has been dedicated to tape for over 50 years since developing the first ever tape drive and is continuing to develop new tape solutions and improvements backed by hundreds of IBM active patents – even tape technology that is not immediately thought of as IBM probably has IBM patents and innovations making it work.

The latest and current 3592 drive is the TS1150. This, the world’s fastest tape drive, as well as having the highest capacity; stored 10 TB of data (uncompressed) on a “JD” tape cartridge whilst allowing the re-use of existing media at 7TB capacity thus protecting the previous investment. Its capacity and native data transfer rate of up to 360 MB/s will not be reached by LTO until Generation 8 anticipated to arrive in 2017-2018.

What makes IBM LTO cartridges best for IBM hardware?

Because IBM develops its own technology you can be sure the tape is a “perfect match” to the hardware.

All IBM drives are designed and carefully manufactured to a specific design point within the established, broader specification range of the tape drive. IBM Media is manufactured to this same specific design point. This optimised or “tuned” drive & media combination provide the best possible performance, reliability & compatibility so the user can be sure when they need their tape the most it will work. This is particularly important with LTO tapes & drives with so many vendors producing drives and tapes with differing design points that all fit within the broad LTO specifications for compatibility. Only IBM tape media is specifically tuned to match IBM tape drives, exceeding these LTO minimum standards – ensuring reliability and durability both in use and in subsequent storage, protecting your valuable data.

IBM innovations.

IBM was first to market with all generations of LTO tape drive and IBM Media has again been developed to provide superior performance in use over other manufacturers’ media. LTO7 also features improved compression, resulting in a reduction in tape needed to store your existing data. This provides 40% more performance and 30% more efficiency than an LTO6 Library.

IBM has chosen to use Barium Ferrite Media for their 3592JC and later cartridges as well as LTO6 cartridges because it is a better particle for the long term storage of data – archiving for 30 years without degradation (if stored and handled correctly). Other manufacturers have continued with Metal Particle Tape for LTO6 on the basis it will work – that is it meets the LTO minimum specification. This far sighted approach has been proven correct with all LTO7 cartridges using this superior technology.

IBM Media is used as the Master Standard Reference Tape (MSRT) at the Measurement Assurance Corporation, the third party that performs Compliance testing for the LTO consortium. Being chosen as the MSRT is an indication of IBM predictability and consistency from cartridge to cartridge. IBM has been the MSRT supplier for all LTO generations.

Innovations such as compression, encryption and the new “game changer” Linear Tape File System (LTFS) were all developed by IBM.  IBM technology demonstrations working with Fujifilm and Sony are creating new storage records that could lead to a practical 150TB cartridge in the near future.

What does this mean for the tape library?

As well as improved reliability, testing has shown that by optimising the drive and tape you get even more capacity and lower error rates. Continued read write testing (up to 350 times) shows IBM media behaving like a new cartridge whilst unmatched 3rd party tapes reduced to half the original capacity!

The error rate is the “comfort zone” & makes the difference between the backup merely completing or completing with ease. As the error rate increases, the customer will –

  • Need to clean the drives more often.
  • Suffer slower data transfer speed as the drive has to repeat writing data that did not write successfully the first time.
  • Experience reduced capacity, needing to buy more cartridges to complete the backup job – negating any hoped for “saving” they may have made on the initial purchase.
  • As data becomes the new “natural resource” customers need to save and store their data now and be sure they can access it in the future, once it is valuable to them.

This can be as simple as for Legal reasons, or further analysis of an Oil & Gas deposit may now make extraction more feasible. The Music and Entertainment Industry have found a new revenue stream by re-mastering old albums or even a completely unanticipated use for the data. An example is the game Guitar Hero – if a song isn’t available on Guitar Hero then it is very likely the multi-track master couldn’t be revived. The Media & Entertainment industry’s archive needs are expected to increase 6 fold by 2018. Tape’s new, higher access speeds and extremely low TCO has allowed Cloud providers to transform the general public’s storage options at an extremely low cost/GB.

In addition to these archive uses, tape still sits behind all large corporations providing vital reassurance and the occasional rescue. Google Mail being a very public example of tape’s off-line benefits allowing them to restore e-mails they had lost across multiple data centres due to a failed software update.

The benefit of this end to end approach is.

IBM media quality allows a Lifetime Warranty for the media as well as the simplicity for the customer of only having one engineer responsible for the entire installation. Historically fewer than 200 per million cartridges are even defective – two hundredths of one percent.

In conclusion

IBM Tape and IBM Tape Drives have been designed together to safely store data –

The Drive – its tape path & head ensure great performance writing to

The Tape – with its Superior Error rate and consistent quality,

All monitored by SARS – IBM’s Statistical Analysis & Reporting System.

Once the tape is Stored – Barium Ferrite media ensures the tape’s stability.

IBM has created a reliable pairing of components working together for the best user experience.

Whilst IBM drives will work with compatible media, being compatible just means meeting the minimum standard of the LTO Consortium, ironically referenced against, but not matching the IBM MSRT tape cartridge.

Simply put, compatible is just that “compatible” and IBM Media serves any user of an IBM Tape drive better.