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Choose your path wisely: Sony AIT data storage solutions provide a strategic alternative to linear tape formats. (Advertisement).

As Robert Frost makes clear in his famous poem, "The Road Not Taken," picking one path over another can make all the difference. While Frost had other topics in mind at the time, his point is nonetheless applicable to today's companies that are using or considering linear tape formats such as DLT, S-DLT and LTO as their data storage solution.

Legacy formats such as Digital Linear Tape (DLT) were a reasonable data storage AITernative in the past, but a combination of new business challenges and new technology choices are driving many companies to rethink their tape storage path. For example, conventional DLT systems are approaching the end of their useful life cycle, with no well-defined way to add capacity without upgrading to a new format. While Super DLT (SOLT) and Linear Tape Open (LTO) systems do have roadmaps to the future, neither format offers a compatible solution that can span the gamut of storage needs, from the entry or workstation level up to the "Super Drive" level. In addition, upgrades require a media change, making long-term use of linear solutions more cumbersome and less flexible.

Perhaps, as Frost suggests, it's time to consider a different path. Advanced Intelligent Tape[TM] (AIT) data storage solutions from Sony provide a broader range of capacities, increased performance, better reliability, easier maintenance and a more strategic path to the future than the AITernatives. Organizations choosing the AIT path will find themselves with a more flexible and integrated tape storage format that can span backup needs from individual PCs, to workgroups, to the enterprise.

AIT is a proven storage technology with years of successful enterprise deployments behind it. First appearing in 1996, AIT is a compact, helical scan 8MM tape format in a 3.5-in., half-height form factor. With its high capacity (up to 100GB per cassette), speed and reliability, AIT is emerging as a more strategic tape storage path compared with linear formats such as DLT, S-DLT and LTO. Consider the following advantages of AIT:

* Reliability -- Consistent operation and assured reliability are two critical components for a tape storage system. AIT-3 drives are designed for a mean time between failure (MTBF) of up to 400,000 hours (compared with DLT's 250,000 MTBF rating) and a 100% duty cycle.

In contrast, DLT-IV media is notoriously unreliable, subject to the often severe leader problems that are common for leader-based tapes. AIT, on the other hand, has a soft loading system, which allows it to load the media without using motors or levers. This greatly decreases the stress on the tapes and increases the longevity of the media. In fact, AIT can even perform a soft load from the middle of the tape.

* Performance -- With organizations facing increasingly larger backup volumes and a greater need for faster recoveries for business continuity, drive performance is critical. For large backup applications, AIT compares favorably with the higher speeds of S-DLT and LTO. But for interactive applications, AIT is far faster because of its superior load, seek and rewind times. For example, AIT has a 39-second access speed, compared to 80 seconds for S-DLT and LTO.

* Migration Path -- Currently in its third generation, AIT has a defined and proven roadmap that has seen performance and capacity double with each new generation. In addition, all three generations of AIT drives available today are both read and write backward-compatible. S-DLT drives, on the other hand, can not write to DLT cartridges, severely limiting their usefulness.

* Industry Support -- AIT was created by Sony, one of the co-inventors of the Digital Data Storage (DOS) tape format, and AIT is an open technology supported by more than 27 partners, including HP/Compaq, Qualstar, Advanced Digital Information Corp. (ADIC) and Spectra Logic. In addition, leading backup software packages such as Veritas Software's Veritas Backup Exec and NetBackup, Legato Systems' NetWorker and Computer Associates' CA BrightStor ARCserve are all compatible with the AIT format.

* Size -- In backup, less is more. For example, AIT-3 provides at least 250% greater capacity than DLT. At its 100GB capacity, AIT tapes are comparable to S-DLT 110GB and LTO 100GB models, but at just one-third the size. Simply put, this means it's much easier to use AIT for automation and tape libraries because it takes up so much less room. In fact, many companies are able to get twice the number of AIT drives in a given library compared with traditional half-inch drives. AIT also has the world's first 1U autoloader (courtesy of its low power consumption and small media size), making it the perfect fit for tight locations.

Some organizations fear that switching to a different backup tape format will be difficult and costly. But it can be done painlessly. If you follow a standard 30-day backup cycle, most of your organization's data will be on newer AIT tapes within a month. In addition, Sony bundles NovaStor migration tape copy software with each AIT tape drive or library, making it easy to copy critical or frequently-used tapes from other formats onto AIT.

Data backups should be there when you need them. But you shouldn't have to dedicate valuable IT personnel to maintaining finicky tape drives, juggle dozens of tapes to find what you're looking for or wait minutes (or hours or days) to retrieve valuable data. Sony's AIT data storage solutions enable organizations to get on the right path for compatible, reliable and high-performance tape backup. AIT is simply the smart investment.

RELATED ARTICLE: One Platform: Full Coverage

Sony AIT is the only technology that covers the entire backup and archiving spectrum.

* Capacity/Performance

High-end network and enterprise backup/archiving

* Performance/Price Focus

Mid-range network backup/archiving

* DDS Replacement

Low-end desktop backup
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Title Annotation:Advanced Intelligent Tape
Publication:Computer Technology Review
Article Type:Advertisement
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:May 1, 2003
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