Friday, March 26, 2010

Reliable, Scalable Data Storage For The Long Haul

Finding a way to store data in a safe and accessible way has left many corporations perplexed. This is especially true as companies try to accommodate data growth, tight regulatory requirements, and distributed environments.

Overland Storage’s NEO E Series now take advantage of LTO-5 technology, the latest innovation in high-capacity storage. With LTO-5 technology, overall performance is doubled, and data throughput is increased by 20% when compared to LTO-4

The NEO E Series consists of the NEO 2000E, NEO 4000E, and NEO 8000 enterprise-level tape archive and storage library systems. The E Series offers between 45TB and 3PB of capacity, 30 to 1,000 cartridge slots, and one to 24 tape drives, and it is capable of data transfer rates up to 24TB/hour.

The NEO E Series features continuous operation, remote failover, and the ability to expand on demand. It also supports several connectivity options, including SCSI, iSCSI, and native Fibre Channel.

“The NEO E Series products offer the ultimate in cost of ownership by providing affordable high-capacity, high-performance data storage that provides reliable access to data with minimized management, maintenance, and service costs,” says Peri Grover, director of product management at Overland Storage.

“The NEO E Series products provide superior density with up to three times the capacity in the amount of physical space, which minimizes the use of costly data center space,” Grover says.

Additionally, NEO E Series products provide redundancy features, including redundant robotics, for environments that require scaled capacity and performance. They also offer twice the reliability of the competition, ensuring dependable access to mission-critical data, Grover says.

With the NEO Upgrade And Save Program, current NEO customers can upgrade their existing NEO systems and receive up to $12,000 in cash rebates.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

TDK Starts Production of LTO Ultrium Generation-5 Media

TDK completed development of the LTO Ultrium 5, the fifth-generation LTO (Linear Tape-Open) Ultrium format data cartridges and the cartridges recently passed certification testing by the LTO compliance verification entity (CVE). TDK has now started mass production of the LTO Ultrium 5 data cartridges.

TDK has long been an expert in the development of recording media and frequently works in close collaboration with various drive manufacturers during the initial tape and cartridge design stages to develop optimal products for each recording format. It was thanks to this extensive track record that the LTO Ultrium 5 passed the strict certification testing by the CVE.

The rapid development and expansion of digital networks resulting from the spread of cloud computing has caused the volume of data handled by data storage systems in large-scale data centers and other facilities to expand enormously, and even higher-capacity, faster data systems are needed. The LTO Ultrium 5 data cartridge, the fifth-generation LTO product, has a capacity of 1.5 TB (3.0 TB with 2:1 compression) and a high-speed data transfer rate of 140 MB/s (280 MB/s with 2:1 compression) maximum. LTO Ultrium 5 is an optimal data storage system for high-speed, high-capacity servers in today's era of large data volumes.

To achieve this data storage capacity, the LTO Ultrium 5 data cartridge, the recording media for LTO Ultrium 5 data storage systems, uses tape that is 12.65 mm wide and has 1,280 recording tracks (compared to 896 tracks for LTO Ultrium 4). In addition, the tape thickness has been reduced to make it possible for a single cartridge to hold more tape. As a result, the tape must meet even stricter precision, performance, and durability standards.

The LTO Ultrium 5 data cartridge, which TDK recently began mass-producing, incorporates cutting-edge magnetic material and tape technologies that TDK, a recording media manufacturer, has accumulated through the development of numerous magnetic recording media including LTO Ultrium products. The LTO Ultrium 5 format achieves stable read and write signals by using high-output, ultrafine metal particles designed specifically for LTO Ultrium, ultra-thin, dual-layer tape coating technology that controls the thickness of the magnetic layer on the nanometer order, and a special servo writer used to record high-precision servo signals.

In addition, a high-precision cartridge mechanism that seeks high-performance and high precision in every component including a high-precision leader pin and a reel hub that enhances the straightness of the drum is used to ensure precise drive access.

Thanks to these features and technologies, the LTO Ultrium 5 data cartridge is a highly durable, high-reliability data storage medium that meets today's most demanding needs for high capacity and high-speed storage solutions.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Overland Storage - SnapServer Will Move From Milpitas to San Jose

Overland Storage, Inc. has completed plans for a July 2010 move from its Milpitas, California office to a new location in downtown San Jose, California. The newly designed offices in San Jose's Cityview Plaza Towers will accommodate current staff, centralizing the company's sales and marketing organizations, and provide room for expansion to keep pace with planned growth for the organization. Overland's new location offers a modern, open layout created to provide a working environment that fosters creativity and the open exchange of ideas among Overland employees and between Overland's staff and clients.

"Silicon Valley is widely recognized as a center of excellence for the high tech industry. We have carefully selected Overland's new location to take advantage of that reputation and provide our team a great work environment," said Eric Kelly, president and CEO of Overland Storage. "Employees will be within walking distance to countless restaurants, hotels and art and cultural venues. In addition, our team will have walking access to public transportation and new housing options, offering employees efficiencies in their work day travel by facilitating walking, biking and use of public transportation. We recognize that access to travel alternatives not only offers many benefits to our team, but to the community as well, by promoting less stress, cleaner air, reduced consumption of resources and less traffic congestion."

Jonathan Praw, vice president of BPG Properties, the group that owns Cityview Plaza, also pointed to the region's rich history as a high tech pioneer as the reason why companies find San Jose a great place to do business. "Silicon Valley has the highest concentration of high tech workers of any metropolitan area, and downtown San Jose has long been recognized as the Capital of Silicon Valley," said Praw. "As a recent winner of multiple awards recognizing excellence in facilities and building management, we are proud of Cityview Plaza and pleased that Overland Storage has chosen it for their new Silicon Valley location. With onsite retail services, high-end restaurants, a fitness facility and state of the art conference center, Cityview Plaza provides a premiere facility and ideal location for Overland and its employees."

With the announcement of Dr. Geoff Barrall as CTO and vice president of engineering earlier this month, the company will also be combining its product management and product development groups for disk-based data storage at the new location. This will allow Overland to enhance collaboration and accelerate the development of next generation storage technologies.

As part of his employment agreement, Dr. Barrall was granted an inducement stock option for the purchase of up to 218,356 shares of its common stock in accordance with NASDAQ Listing Rule 5635 (c)(4).

Overland's move to the Cityview Plaza Tower location will initially occupy 21,000 square feet of the 159,000 square foot 13-floor tower, with the option to occupy additional space as the company further expands its sales, marketing and engineering efforts. Overland will continue to operate out of its current Milpitas location until July 2010, after which its new Silicon Valley address will be: 125 South Market Street, San Jose, California 95113.

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Vendor Metamorphosis, Or Resurrection?

Back in July, I was skeptical that longtime tape automation vendors Tandberg Data and Overland Storage would successfully transit the tempest that is the SMB storage market in the recession. Both are announcing products and road maps that fit their SMB customers better, and Overland has both managed to raise another $12 million and hire Geoff Barrall to be their CTO, which could keep them around long enough to deliver on the vision. MAID pioneer Copan wasn't so lucky, however.

The core of Overland's vision is to make the transition from collecting 80 percent of revenue from HP's OEM tape automation sales to resurrecting the once incredibly valuable SnapServer brand. Their new CEO, Eric Kelly, has an attachment to Snap, having been part of the team that bought it from Quantum for $10 million and sold it to Adaptec for $100 million, now bringing it to Overland for $3 million. As often as Snap's been bought and sold, a guy could make a good living just being their investment banker. Kelly's made some good decisions at Overland, killing off their Ultamus SAN array being at the top of my list.

I had lunch with Eric and Overland's marketing and sales VP Jillian Mansolf a couple of weeks ago, and they get that the keys to the SMB market are making things easy to use and developing channel loyalty. This is, by the way, a model that the pre-Dell Equallogic executed very well.

Now they've added Barrall, who founded BlueArc, which makes high-speed NAS devices. Barrall also founded Data Robotics, which makes the Drobo NAS, and he developed the "Beyond RAID" technology that allows a NAS to use different sized disks in a RAID array. Barrall clearly understands how to make a successful NAS company, so I won't count Overland among the walking wounded just yet.

The new S2000 iSCSI array isn't just a re-package of the iSCSI target Snap servers have had for years. They've re-written both the iSCSI target to make it faster, and the user interface, replacing the web GUI with Windows plug-ins that greatly simplify provisioning. They've also added a vCenter plugin and high availability for VMware via replication and failover. With SAS and SATA options and expandability to 120TB via SAS JBODs, S2000 is competitive with other entry-level SAN arrays like HP's MSA and Dell Equallogic and is probably a step up form EMC's AX.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

LTO-5 Tape Drives coming from Quantum and Overland Storage

Both Quantum and Overland have announced LTO5 tape products, but the LTO consortium still has nowhere for tape users to go after LTO-6.

Linear Tape Open (LTO) 5 is the fifth LTO format and specifies cartridges holding 1.5TB of raw data with a 140MB/sec transfer rate. SpectraLogic was first to announce systems, in September last year but customers would actually get LTO-4 systems and a free upgrade when actual LTO-5 product was ready.

Overland Storage announced its NEO E LTO-5 tape automation product late in February. Now Quantum has followed suit, claiming it has "availability of the industry’s first tape products based on the generation 5 specifications" -meaning LTO-5 tape autoloaders, drives and media and limited availability of LTO-5 technology in its Scalar tape libraries as part of an early customer adoption program.

All three companies say LTO-5 product is needed according to Janae Lee, Quantum's SVP for marketing, because of "tremendous growth in unstructured data, rich file formats from new digital technologies and requirements to hold on to that content for longer periods". This is not going to stop, yet the LTO roadmap stops with the next LTO-6 generation, offering 3.2TB capacity and 270MB/sec transfer speed. After that there is a dead end.

There is a roadmap link on the LTO Ultrium web site but it takes you into a Page Not Found error - says it all really.

The members of the LTO consortium are HP, IBM and Quantum. Interestingly IBM and Fujitsu have devised technology they say could lead to a 35TB capacity tape. That indicates that the LTO consortium could go well beyond LTO-6 to generations 7, 8 and beyond, each one doubling the previous generation's capacity.

There is now no effective competition to the LTO formats in the general open systems server area, with Sony's AIT and Super AIT hors de combat and Quantum retiring its DLT formats in favour of LTO. This lack of competition could incline the LTO consortium to being slower than otherwise in deciding what to advise users to do once their LTO-6 tape drives don't have the capacity and speed needed to back up that "tremendous growth in unstructured data".

The lack of a roadmap might incline customers to look more favourably upon disk-to-disk (D2D) backup, especially deduplicating disk-to-disk backup. We can expect D2D arrays to be employing 4TB drives, possibly even 8TB ones, when LTO-6 tape drives appear in roughly three years time. Unless the LTO Consortium gets its ass in gear and presses its tape pedal to the metal, it could find that its lack of urgency will help bring about its own demise.

Perry Grover, product marketing director of Overland's tape storage division, said she could only speak as a customer of the LTO consortium, HP supplying the LTO drives Overland uses. She referenced the 35TB IBM and Fujitsu tape project and said: "I think investment in tape technology is continuing. I do believe the LTO Consortium is working on a roadmap post-LTO-6, and would expect to see that in the next few months."

An HP spokesperson said: "In response to extensive end user research, along with licensee and industry analyst input, the LTO Program has incrementally increased the data rate specification for generation 5, and plan to provide roadmap updates to LTO Ultrium generation 6 and beyond to give users improved tape performance attributes."

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