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Sun Renews Commitment To Tape Storage

Sun Microsystems is about to become part of Oracle, a giant enterprise software company, which has raised many questions about the future of Sun's hardware product lines. The company this week made clear that it isn't backing away from the mature tape storage market when it announced several enhancements to its family of tape products and disclosed plans to work with partner Fujifilm to develop a new generation of Sun StorageTek tape drives.

Sun StorageTek Virtual Storage Managers (VSM) has been posting double-digit gains in revenue year over year, the company said, and it expects to see continued growth in that product line despite the poor economy and tight IT budgets. "Sun has the most comprehensive enterprise storage portfolio in the industry, with unmatched virtualization technology that enables our customers to utilize their assets more efficiently, greatly reduce risk and simplify their management processes," Jon Benson, Sun's senior vice-president of Storage, said in a statement.

Sun intends to build on that momentum by developing new tape drive technology with Fujifilm, which will be developing new media for the Sun StorageTek T10000 tape drive. That system already offers tapes with 1 TB of capacity and the company said it intend to launch new systems with greater capacity and performance.

Sun has tripled the capacity of its Sun StorageTek VSM 5 to 90 TB and added the ability to have clustered replication across VSMs to three or more locations, which will help large enterprises with several data centers to replicate to each site for disaster recovery and load balancing. Replication can take place over IP or Ficon. Sun executives said this capability should appeal to financial institutions that want redundancy in DR sites and more flexibility in setting up complex connections using less expensive network infrastructure. The company also introduced the Sun StorageTek VSM 5e, described as a less expensive version of the VSM 5 that's designed for disaster recovery and test sites.

For tape libraries, the new Sun StorageTek SL3000 Access Expansion Module (AEM) comes with redundant and replaceable robotics and enables bulk loading and unloading of tapes. The AEM works with the Sun StorageTekSL3000, the company's mid-range tape library, and aims to cut the amount of time customers spend managing their tapes. "This lets you replace a robot on the fly, non-disruptively," said Tom Wultich, group manager for tape libraries and drives at Sun. "We've also added removable magazines in that module so you can do a mass replace very quickly, a bulk load or off load. It has proved very popular with customers.

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