Sun, IBM Clash in New Tape Storage, Encryption War

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2006-09-14 Email Print this article Print

Analysis: Everything old is new again as two IT giants forge a new battleground in the form of high-end cassette tape storage and encryption.

Suddenly, tape in old-fashioned cassettes—technology that is, um, 55 years old—has become the new turf in the latest war between two very progressive IT giants.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun Microsystems made a special trip to New York Sept. 13 to introduce a spate of new products, including new device-level tape encryption with key management for its Sun StorageTek T10000 tape drive. It also unveiled the first virtual tape library to run on the Solaris 10 operating system.

The rollout came one day after IBM introduced what it called the data security market's "first comprehensive tape encryption solution" with its new Encryption Key Manager, which stores and encrypts data—and the keys that open the data—on high-density tape cassettes.

Both companies clearly understand the fast-growing nature of the data storage market in all its forms: disk drives, storage software, storage services, flash memory and especially tape storage, which is perceived by many data storage customers to be the most cost-effective hardware of them all.

Tape needs zero power and cooling when not being used and is easier to physically store and transport than disk drives. Random access has always been the Achilles' heel of tape storage, but, hey, nothing is perfect; even the great Babe Ruth struck out a lot.

In this fresh flare-up between the two companies, the software pits Big Blue's Encryption Key Manager against Sun's StorageTek Crypto Key Management Station. On the hardware side, it's IBM's System Storage TS1120 tape drives facing off against Sun's StorageTek T10000 tape drive.

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