Oracle 2011 Jan 31 New T10000C tape system and media

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Oracle recently announced a new high-end tape cartridge and drive system that supports higher density and more data throughput than other enterprise class tape storage available on the market today.

StorageTek T10000C tape storage

The T10000C tape drive with T10000 T2 tape media follows on from Oracle’s popular T10000A and T10000B enterprise tape storage and supports a native capacity of 5TB with 10TB compressed.  It also supplies up to 240MB/sec of native data transfer, has a 2GB buffer, is FC and FICON compatible, and supports 2-4Gb/sec FC interfaces per tape transport.  The T10000C is currently the highest capacity tape storage available today, in any format.

The new T10000C is ~3X the capacity and ~1.7X the data throughput of the latest mid-range,LTO5 tape storage.  Given its superior throughput, the T10000C is probably an ideal storage for cases where backup windows have become a crucial time constraint.

The T10000C tape drive is rack mountable and can also be connected to Oracle StorageTek’s SL8500 and SL3000 tape libraries.  With 10-SL8500 library units interconnected into one tape complex and 100,0000 T10000C cartridges, Oracle can now offer 1EB (Exabyte) of compressed tape storage in a single library. Also with up to 640 StorageTek T10000C tape drives in a single library, Oracle can offer over 500TB per hour of data throughput for the most demanding applications.

Like the LTO family of tape storage, the T10000C reads both T10000A and T10000B cartridges.  However unlike the T10000C, the latest LTO5 can also write LTO4 generation cartridges, which probably aids adoption of their technology.  Nonetheless, it should be noted that the T10000B drive was able to write double the original capacity on T10000A media. Moreover, FujiFilm has a lab demonstration showing recording of up to 35TB on the latest cartridge media.  As such, divorcing away from old media entirely, could allow T10000C media to last a couple of drive generations.  But the costs are all up front and may impede technology adoption.

The new T10000C drive also comes with a 2GB tape buffer, which improves write efficiencies and masks any back-hitch requirements to keep data streaming to the tape media. Previous generation T10000A and T10000B only had 256MB of tape buffer.

Other new T10000C features include

  • StorageTek’s Tape Tiering which partitions the tape storage to support quick search and access to files in the same partition and
  • StorageTek In-Drive Reclaim accelerator which can reclaim and reuse space on tape cartridges that has been deleted.

In-Drive Reclaim is only available with the T10000C transport and is only used behind Oracle’s StorageTek mainframe attached Virtual Storage Manager.  This capability was initially introduced in the T10000B recently, just ahead of the T10000C launch

As for the hardware, the T10000C transport supports two tape heads which search, read or write 32-channels of data in parallel.  This reduces the amount of tape passes required to access and record data on a full tape.  Also the new tape drive uses SafeGuide tape path technology that guides media on the non-data side of the tape, and as such, tape rollers do not come into contact with customer data.  Oracle claims the T10000 T2 media has an archive life of over 30 years.

Announcement significance

What with all the talk around about deduplication appliances with 3TB SATA disks replacing tape storage it’s about time that some tape vendor started responding.  Nonetheless, the days of tape storage are waning.  Tape lives on, but in a much-changed role from 5 years ago.

  • Online backup is moving off tape to disk and sometimes to disk only storage in ever increasing numbers.
  • Media libraries are also migrating to disk only systems (although my tape friends may dispute this).

For tape to hold and/or grow its market space, it must quickly innovate in capacity, throughput and access times.  With 3TB SATA disk drives coming shortly, a 5TB tape cartridge is a good step but it can’t just keep up with density increase it must outpace disk altogether if it’s to reclaim it’s place in enterprise storage.

Also Oracle must move to quickly and effectively to reduce the continuing operational negatives of tape use.  The T10000C is a step but Oracle’s StorageTek Tape libraries are also due for a much needed refresh.

Nonetheless, there are many “big-data” customers out there that will still take advantage of the T10000C’s increased capacity and throughput.  An EB of storage in a single tape library appeals to many of them.  CERN, NSA, and other huge data repository operators will certainly jump on board.  I believe Tandberg tweeted the other day that Google uses over 50,000 tape cartridges a month.  With the new T10000C this could easily be cut to a third and maybe more if they were using prior gen tape technology.

Now that Oracle has advanced to the next generation enterprise tape technology, can IBM’s enterprise tape storage continue to lag behind for long?

A PDF version of this can be found at

Oracle 2011 Jan 31 T10000C tape storage announcement


Silverton Consulting, Inc. is a Storage, Strategy & Systems consulting services company, based in the USA offering products and services to the data storage community


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