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HP Heightens Tape IQ

Most of the buzz around information lifecycle management has centered around adding more intelligence to disk, but Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) is taking a different route: The company announced a new tape controller architecture today that it claims will help smarten up SAN-attached tape libraries (see HP Offers Tape for SANs).

HP claims its StorageWorks Extended Tape Library Architecture can significantly increase the IQ of tape backup systems, providing better scaleability, security, and reliability. It's a big improvement over your typical, dimwitted tape setup, HP says. Unlike disk drives, which are generally attached to the network through intelligent controllers, tape has ordinarily linked directly into the SAN fabric.

"This provides a level of intelligence in the library itself," says Rick Luttrall, the director of near-line product marketing for HPs Network Storage Division. "You very rarely see a disk that’s directly attached to the fabric. There’s always a controller. This is a similar concept but for tape."

But while HP is trying to tout the uniqueness of its approach -- almost acting as if it invented the concept -- other vendors have long offered controller-attached tape drives and libraries, including Advanced Digital Information Corp. (Nasdaq: ADIC) and Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek) (NYSE: STK).

"We like HP’s announcement," says Dave Uvelli, ADIC’s program manager for the Scaler I2000. "We think that using a controller is good. We’ve been doing it for two years now. We’re on our second generation."

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