Tape Library Options

  • 16 March 2021
  • 6 replies
  • 47 views

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Hello everyone, hopefully wanting to get some recommendations and possibly help. We are currently shopping to replace our HP LTO6 SAS Tape Libraries. We are looking at the Quantum i3’s to support LTO8. First off let me explain our setup

  • 2 Media Agents
  • 4 Tape Libraries (HP LTO6) - 2 of them directly connected 6GB SAS to 1 media Agent and the other 2 drives directly connected 6GB SAS to the other media agent

We are looking at the i3 but would want both media agents to be able to utilize the same drives from the unit. We know how we currently have it setup and 2 drives belong to one media agent and the other 2 to the other. So some quick questions:

  1. Any recommendations on other brands we should look at? 
  2. Anyone recommend the quantum tape drives?
  3. What would the setup of this look like from a SAS to Media Agent setup look like? Right now obviously 1 media agent can’t use the other’s tape drives and we dont want to be in this position in the new setup. If we have 4 drives we want all of our media agent’s to be able to use all the tape drives available.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. If anyone has any good resources as well that would be awesome.

Thanks!


6 replies

Userlevel 6
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Moving this to our Best Practices section, and changing to a Conversation format.  We’ve had some REALLY popular talks about various library vendors and models, so no doubt this will help you get the most feedback!

Here’s the links to those threads in case you’re curious!

https://community.commvault.com/conversations/40

https://community.commvault.com/conversations/64

 

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Unfortunately I think the post you linked was regarding disk storage. I’m looking more along the lines of tape.

Thanks!
 

Userlevel 6
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Unfortunately I think the post you linked was regarding disk storage. I’m looking more along the lines of tape.

Thanks!
 

You are correct, these are not for tape.  I just wanted to share the type of feedback you can expect (and why I moved the thread and changed the type),

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Commvault supports most enterprise branded tape libraries along with the latest drive models offered.

That being said, we do support the Quantum i3.

 

Purchasing a tape library with the latest drive model might seem like the best choice with a goal of obtaining the latest drive speeds, media capacity and performance capabilities that your network can support.  But do take into account what is best for you.

Things to consider:

     Media type where your data currently resides.

     Supported media types of the tape drives being considered.

     Cost of new media types to be purchased going forward.

     Interface types of drives available for new Tape library (SAS / FC)

     HBA types you have available for MA connectivity (SAS / FC)

 

Two MA's sharing a tape library with 4 drives:

     SAS connection will be direct connect as with your current environment.  

     MA_1 will have data path to D_1, D_2 and MA_2 will have data path to D_3, D_4.

     FC connection allows for zoning capabilities within your SAN fabric (both MAs will see all 4 drives).

          ie:   Zone 1 = MA_1, D_1, D_2, D_3, D_4 and Zone 2 = MA_2, D_1, D_2, D_3, D_4)                        

It is important to consider the media type your active and the compatibility of your new drives.

NOTE:   LTO8 tape drive supports Ultrium 7 & 8 media for Read/Write. 

There is NO support at all for Ultrium 6 media and below (Read/Write or Read-Only).

                LTO7 tape drive supports Ultrium 6 & 7 media for Read/Write and Read-Only for Ultrium 5.  There is NO support at all for Ultrium 4 and below.

You do not want to import your LTO6 media into a new tape library with LTO8 drives and find out these new drives cannot Read or Write to them.

 

Links to BOL subjects:

                Tape Storage Matrix  

                Direct Attached Tape Lib   (SAS)

                SAN Attached Tape Lib    (FC)

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We’re currently using Quantum tape hardware for media agents at six locations, including an i500, an i80 and six superloader 3s, the predecessor to the i3 model I believe.  The older superloader 3 units with LTO-5 drives started failing near the end of their life retirement date, which Quantum communicates to you.  Hindsight being 50-50, I wish we had done a refresh a bit earlier, and we’re currently using refurbished replacements, and had a couple of quick failures with those.

 

When pricing out replacements, we found Dell libraries with IBM drives to be a bit cheaper, so that’s our plan for hardware refresh.  However, be advised that if you want to use tape drive hardware encryption, that in turn requires the use of IBM’s SKLM key manager.  I’m not sure if Quantum or HPE configurations result in painting yourself into a similar corner.

 

When it comes to sharing tape libraries, that’s problematic if you start slicing up the library itself into two or more smaller “virtual” libraries.  I’m not sure if Commvault can be configured to have a library manager like TSM.  But I see sharing only for high throughput to tape, or redundancy, and I would think disk libraries would be easier to deploy to meet those goals.

 

Finally, carving up a tape library into a single drive unit then prevents the easy use of it for media refresh purposes to keep your tape pools managed properly.  Physical tape, IMHO, is still a cost effective and greener solution for many use cases, but does require more care, feeding and planning.

 

 

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Just two follow up comments on the above:

  1. HW Encryption / Key Management:  If the tape library is licensed to allow the drives to HW encrypt, there will also be a Library option (specific to each HW vendor) to either manage the keys from the Library side or “Application Managed”  (ISV side).   If enabled for ISV (backup SW)...Commvault does have the ability to manage the HW encryption keys when enabled on our end.
  1. “Virtual” libraries:  Partitioned tape libraries present themselves to the host as unique physical devices.   As long as each partition is zoned and configured to the intended Host (each with it’s own ISV/backup software), there should be no issue with each partition being used by different Hosts/backup SW.

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