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10 years & 3.3 million tape drive shipments later...Happy Birthday LTO!

By Laura Loredo, HP StorageWorks


What were you doing late summer 2000? We at HP were shipping our first LTO Ultrium tape drives. As we celebrate a decade that has seen more than 3.3 million LTO tape drives shipped worldwide by all manufacturers as standalone drives, in racks, autoloaders and libraries, we’re feeling a bit reflective. So here’s a closer look at why LTO remains a good choice for data protection.


The LTO story so far

Since its introduction in July 2000, LTO Ultrium has rapidly become the world’s most popular tape technology, accounting for more than 99% share of the mid-range tape drive market in the first quarter of 2010.


According to IDC, over 100,000 LTO Ultrium tape drives shipped during the first quarter of calendar year 2010.1


Said another way, that’s the equivalent of one LTO Ultrium drive shipping every 80 seconds. At the same time, more than 150 million LTO media cartridges have shipped over the ten-year period, capable of holding a total data capacity of around 6 million TB.


LTO Ultrium was developed by a consortium of companies, including HP, to provide an open standard technology for dependable, high capacity, high performance data protection in a small footprint. It soon became the midrange tape technology of choice.


HP takes the LTO lead

One of the founding technology provider companies, HP shipped the first LTO full-height tape drives in July 2000, and was first to market with half-height LTO Ultrium tape drives shortly after. These drives offer a compressed capacity of 200 GB per tape cartridge at speeds of 54 GB per hour for LTO-1 half-height drives.


Earlier in 2010, HP launched the fifth generation of LTO Ultrium tape drive—the HP StorageWorks LTO-5 Ultrium, offering 15x compressed capacity (3 TB) and 18.5x the performance (1 TB/hour) of the first LTO-1 tape drives (when comparing LTO-1 half-height with LTO-5 half-height). The recent article—With LTO-5, tape storage just keeps getting better—discusses more benefits. And this white paper digs even deeper.


Today HP is number one in the worldwide tape market, with 62% of shipments in the first quarter of 2010. We also lead in the LTO Ultrium tape market with both standalone tape drive and tape library unit shipments. HP offers a wide range of StorageWorks LTO Ultrium products to meet a variety of needs and infrastructures including standalone external and internal and rack-mount drives, plus tape autoloaders and tape libraries. All are available with a choice of interfaces and wide connectivity. HP StorageWorks LTO products continue to address today’s data protection challenges:


  • Keeping pace with exponential data growth – The latest LTO-5 tape drives can store from 3 TB compressed data on a single tape cartridge and up to 288TB compressed storage in a single 8U HP MSL Tape Library.
  • Providing exceptional value to meet budget constraints – What other storage can you find that delivers 4-cents per storage GB and doesn’t require permanent levels of energy for power and cooling?
  • Supplying the last line of defense – LTO-5 Tape drives keep data off-line and potentially off-site away from threats to “online” primary data. HP TapeAssure provides added levels of management to enhance reliability.
  • Meeting compliance and archival needs – LTO Ultrium media is specified with a 30-year shelf life and can be easily stored in a fireproof safe without requiring power or cooling. Hardware based data encryption provides additional levels of security for data at rest, and new LTFS (Linear Tape File System) functionality that makes it faster and easier to find and retrieve individual files from tape.
  • Delivering scalability and investment protection – Cost-effective library upgrade kits plus the ability to simply add more tapes and more magazines allow you to scale with growing data volumes.


Ongoing recognition from storage managers

Studies show that storage managers agree that tape in general, and LTO Ultrium in particular, continues to play a vital role in a robust data protection strategy.


As evidence of this, recent survey results released by Fleishman Hillard Research show that storage managers continue to value the use of tape technology in a strategic blend with disk, with over 60% of respondents combining disk and tape to effectively address their data retention requirements while reducing cost of ownership. The annual survey reports a trend of increased use of tape for long-term storage by managers operating in tape-only and blended tape/disk environments.


What’s in store for tape?

We recently blogged about Six reasons why tape is still alive and kicking. Now, as we look back at a decade that has seen the meteoric rise of LTO Ultrium, we can also look forward to continued demand for tape technology. The LTO Ultrium open standard is based on a robust eight-generation roadmap, with technology innovations such as WORM tape, data encryption and LTFS being delivered on time, time and again. What’s more, HP continues to invest in the development of LTO Ultrium products in order to meet both current and future needs for dependable, cost-effective data protection.



1IDC, Worldwide Branded Tape 1Q10 Vendor Analysis, #224226, July 2010

latest technology | ‎11-22-2010 11:30 AM

LTO is a great technoly and better then ait tapes

LTO Tapes | ‎03-18-2011 11:15 AM


LTO tapes made it easy for robotic tape library vendors to convert their DLT libraries into LTO libraries.

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