IBM’s Diamondback Tape Library Focuses on Security for Hyperscalers

Innovations in data storage are often neglected in discussions about digital transformation as it is easier to focus on advances in silicon, chipset and system solutions. However, the fact of the matter is that improvements in storage features such as capacity and data read/write speeds are comparable or even greater than the computing power achieved.

These and other issues make IBM’s recent launch of its new Diamondback Tape Library both timely and intriguing.

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IBM’s Diamondback Tape Library

How does IBM’s new tape offering address these issues? The company describes the Diamondback Tape Library as “a high-density archival storage solution that is physically air-gapped to help protect against ransomware and other cyber threats in hybrid cloud environments.”

The new solution was developed in consultation with more than 100 hyperscalers, including “New Wave” organizations and the Big Five hyperscalers.

IBM notes that Diamondback is designed to provide hyperscalers with the ability to securely store hundreds of petabytes of data, including long-term archiving, with a significantly lower carbon footprint and lower total cost of ownership than disk and flash solutions. According to the company, IBM tape solutions account for about a quarter of the total cost of spinning disk storage and public cloud archiving services.

Individual IBM Diamondback Tape Libraries fit in the same 8 square foot footprint as an Open Compute rack (a 42U, 19-inch rack). Systems can be ordered fully populated with LTO-9 tape cartridges and are fully compatible with IBM Ultrium 9 tape drives, which can increase overall capacity by up to 50 percent compared to IBM Ultrium 8 technology.

Systems can be provisioned in less than 30 minutes and individual libraries can support up to 27PB of raw data or 69.5PB of compressed data. Customers can also store exabytes of data across multiple Diamondback tape libraries using erasure code software available from IBM and as open source.

Like all IBM storage solutions, Diamondback Tape Libraries support IBM Spectrum storage applications, including IBM Spectrum Archive, and can also be equipped with data encryption and WORM (Write-Once-Read-Many) media for enhanced security and regulatory compliance. IBM Services are available for deployment, management and support. IBM Diamondback Tape Libraries are now generally available.

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Final analysis

Storage media solutions from punch cards to solid state drives (SSDs) have all had their time in the sun, often at the same time. Outside of specialized use cases, most previous storage media technologies such as punch cards, floppy disk drives, and optical storage have largely fallen out of favor for business storage.

However, enterprise tape solutions, including tape drives, libraries and media, have been a stable and profitable business for well over half a century.

Why is that? Primarily due to continuous development and innovation from tape vendors including IBM, FujiFilm and Sony. But it can also be argued that the flexibility and adaptability of tape storage systems and media has enabled vendors to create highly effective tape solutions for emerging businesses and use cases.

IBM’s new Diamondback Tape Library is a prime example of this process. The company has a long history of storage innovation, and resilient, massively scalable tape storage has been central to IBM’s mainframe business for decades. IBM also has deep expertise across a wide range of enterprise computing processes and understands the business and technology needs of enterprise customers in a way that few vendors can match.

In other words, designing and building a tape storage solution that is powerful and large enough for organizations that regularly store, manage and access data in petabyte and exabyte volumes is hard for IBM given its data storage experience and ongoing research and development a challenge.

It’s worth noting that the Diamondback Tape Library will also complement and benefit from the company’s other storage solutions and initiatives, from the IBM TS7700 Virtual Tape Library to the recent announcement that Red Hat’s storage portfolio and teams are moving to IBM Storage will switch.

Overall, IBM’s Diamondback Tape Library is an example of what the company does best – creating and delivering new offerings that meet the often overwhelming needs of traditional and emerging businesses, including legacy and “new wave” hyperscalers.

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