Storage Technology Corp and IBM Corp, which agreed to terminate a three-year OEM relationship for disk drives earlier this year (CI No 3,651), are also battling it out over tape drive sales. StorageTek launched its 9840 drives at the end of last year in direct competition to IBM’s Magstar line. IBM responded in April with […]
Storage Technology Corp and IBM Corp, which agreed to terminate a three-year OEM relationship for disk drives earlier this year (CI No 3,651), are also battling it out over tape drive sales. StorageTek launched its 9840 drives at the end of last year in direct competition to IBM’s Magstar line. IBM responded in April with faster Magstar 3590 E1 tape drives (CI No 3,640). Now both companies are revealing something of their future roadmaps for the products.
StorageTek says it plans a native fibre channel addition to the 9840 line in the fourth quarter of this year. Native fibre channel has always been in its plans, the company says, and early versions are already out at customers. It expects to be first with native fibre in tapes, and is currently working on integration with all the major operating system and storage management applications and host bus adapters. As the basis for a standard, StorageTek is using the emerging FC Tape specification. Native fibre channel support eliminates distance and error correction problems associated with SCSI. Upgrades from existing systems are promised, but are likely to require a box swap. IBM Corp is also promising native fibre channel, but hasn’t specified dates.
Meanwhile, IBM has been measuring the performance of its Magstar tape drives against the 9840 models introduced at the end of last year. What it claims to have found is that, while the 9840s outperform Magstars using uncompressed data, the Magstars come out at up to 73% faster in writing compressed data onto tape. That, it says, translates back to the fastest data backup times for customers. Using identical environments and ten different types of data, IBM’s tests showed that the current Magstar 3590 B and new E model outperformed StorageTek’s 9840s at an average data rate of 34.3 Mbps, compared to 19.8Mbps.
IBM says it’s now shipped 50,000 Magstars since the product was launched in September 1995, and has been selling an average of 1,000 shipments a month. It says it now anticipates a significant upsweep in volume due to increased demand this year. Meanwhile StorageTek says it’s already shipped 10,000 9840s in its first eight months – an average of 1,250 per month – and says it expects to outship IBM on both the Escom and SCSI side. á