Quantum launches scale-out i6H rackmount tape library

Quantum has released the Scalar i6H tape storage system, aimed at hyperscalers and enterprises that want to use tape to deliver data to users.

It is available in rack unit format rather than a tape library, with the idea that it is easy to install and offers very high storage capacity at a very low cost per gigabyte.

Tape storage comes with relatively long access times, but the i6H is aimed at use cases in which data that is used relatively rarely is needed again and played back on faster media for more frequent access.

The i6H is based on Quantum’s Scalar i6 systems, released in 2016, aimed at customers who want archival storage for unstructured data stored via Quantum’s StorNext file system or linear tape file system (LTFS ) “Tape NAS” are available.

The i6H comes as a 48U data center rack and is ready to use Linear band open (LTO) tapes, the latest generation of which is LTO-9

LTO-9 offers a 50% increase in capacity over LTO-8, which was less than the intended doubling of capacity as development accelerated to meet market demand. This results in an LTO-9 capacity of 18 TB (terabytes) natively and a maximum of 45 TB per tape cartridge when compressed.

LTO tape cartridges are used with the Quantum Redundant Array of Independent Libraries (RAIL) architecture for scale-out tape deployment.

RAIL allows for a modular deployment method, deploying one rack at a time and adding more as needed. The racks can be placed anywhere there is free space in the data center, as would be the case for all drives in a shared capacity pool.

Quantum RAIL’s performance and data protection are provided by the patented erasure coding scheme used in ActiveScale object storage software.

Quantum developed the i6H with the company’s hyperscaler customers, he said Bruno Hald, vice president and general manager of secondary storage at Quantum. “We now have seven Hyperscale and Webscale accounts worldwide that together have deployed over 35 EB [exabytes] Capacity in hundreds of Quantum Tape systems around the world, including many Scalar i6H systems already in use at some of the largest data archives in the world.”

StorNext is Quantum’s proprietary file system that allows concurrent access to large file stores and can act as a user-accessible tier of storage.

Quantum customers can potentially monitor hundreds of tape systems continuously when connected to Quantum’s cloud-based analytics software. You can also periodically verify tape integrity with Scalar Extended Data Lifecycle Management (EDLM) policy-based tape scanning.

The Scalar i6H provides anti-ransomware functionality in the Scalar Ransom Block, which allows administrators to remotely place cartridges out of physical range in relation to reads and writes, but still allows the robotic read head to verify that the there is a volume in the library. Tape is a technology that can easily create an “air gap” between data center systems and stored data, with the possibility of physical distance to the media.

Despite decades of warnings that tape has passed its sell-by date, the medium still retains its benefits and continues to evolve. Benefits include high capacity, fast throughput for sequential reads and writes (faster than a hard drive), low cost per gigabyte, an air gap for security, energy cost savings compared to a constantly spinning hard drive, long lifespan of up to 30 Years of maintenance and more areal density than other media.

Tape capacity shipments in 2019 were about four times higher than in the previous decade, according to the Tape Storage Council.

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One thought on “Quantum launches scale-out i6H rackmount tape library

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