StorageTek customers, particularly those in the United States, who lived through Sun’s acquisition of StorageTek, and who became concerned about Sun’s commitment to and investment in high-end tape, have cause to celebrate. In a move that would have been hard to predict, Oracle, StorageTek’s new owner, has elevated the importance of the tape business unit and substantially increased the investment in product development, system-engineering, and sales. Customers that have not recently had a sales call from a badge-carrying StorageTek tape specialist should expect that to change, as Oracle undoes the move by Sun, most visibly in the United States, to drive high-end tape sales through the channel. To that end, Oracle has already invested in more than 100 StorageTek sales and pre-sales technical support specialists.
StorageTek product development at Oracle has been busy preparing the release of the StorageTek Virtual Library Extension, which provides up to 3.52 PB of additional disk capacity to the VSM, StorageTek’s Virtual Storage Manager, an enterprise-class virtual tape library. This capacity upgrade offers a second tier of disk that enables customers to keep substantially more tape data on disk, before migrating off to physical tape. That means improved data access times during the periods of high data recall, while still leveraging the long-term benefits of archiving on tape. These solutions, combined with the StorageTek SL3000 and SL8500 tape library systems, which support StorageTek T10000, T9840, and T9940 drives, as well as IBM and HP LTO drives, along with SDLT and DLT-S4 drives exclusively on the SL8500, provide a highly competitive tape product family at Oracle.
As part of a much-larger organization, StorageTek announcements of new products and capabilities may not be front-page news at Oracle. In fact, the VLE, which is currently available and which was being demonstrated in the exhibit hall at Oracle Open World, has not yet been officially announced. Expect the official announcement in October. That said, this is simply the challenge of announcement scheduling in a larger organization. The business is clearly strategic.
Oracle’s first-order priority with StorageTek is to re-engage with existing customers and demonstrate their commitment to tape and tape virtualization. A second-order priority is to bundle tape solutions as a complement to other Oracle solutions, including Oracle’s Exalogic Elastic Cloud, as was done previously with Exadata and the Sun Oracle Database Machine.
Action Item: Companies that are consolidating data-centers should consider the StorageTek VSM, VLE, and SL3000 and SL8500 modular tape libraries. StorageTek customers that were becoming concerned about Sun's commitment to tape should take a fresh look, now that Oracle is in charge and investing. Companies that are currently using IBM TS1120 and TS1130 drives and are interested in migrating to StorageTek should raise their collective voices now and request that Oracle expand IBM drive support in the SL8500 beyond LTO. Neither Oracle nor IBM support the competitor's high-end drives in their respective libraries. Doing so would ease the onerous tape-migration task and protect prior investments in drives and media. Oracle is listening to customers, so now is the time to speak.