Australian university leading global storage charge

Mega-storage service unveiled capable of holding 270 million books at Australian IT show

Australia's Deakin University has become the first organisation in the world to roll out a mega-storage solution capable of housing the equivalent of 270 million books, with enough room left over to hold five million MP3 songs.

Jaded visitors sometimes complain that there's no longer anything really new at local IT industry exhibitions, but those who attended IT Expo incorporating Comdex and NetWorld+Interop in Melbourne on Wednesday were treated to a worldwide debut.

Quantum|ATL chose the show for the public unveiling of its new P7000 enterprise-class storage library because the first customer to receive a unit was Australia's Deakin University.

"The US Library of Congress is the largest library in the world. It contains 18 million books. These books can be stored 15 times over in a P7000 storage library, with enough room leftover to store five million of your favourite songs on MP3," said Steve Reichwein, Quantum|ATL's product manager for enterprise systems.

Deakin's unit is configured with eight drives and 679 tape slots giving a capacity of 149T. Despite the capacity, it requires only 12 square feet of floor space. Up to four units can be used as a single virtual library with up to 64 drives for a capacity of over 500T and throughput of up to 5T per hour (7T/hour if LTO Ultrium drives are used instead of SuperDLT).

Craig Warren, desktop and network services manager at Deakin, explained that the P7000 will be used as a general purpose backup device for around 30 Sun Solaris servers and a similar number of Windows NT servers. Over the last six months, the university has been consolidating the functions of department-based servers onto a smaller number of larger, central servers. Deakin's strategic plan requires that all university-owned data is adequately and securely backed up, but not all of the departmental servers were being backed up regularly.

At the same time, a new standard operating environment for PCs has been deployed which locates each user's "My Documents" folder on a server to discourage people from storing files locally.

Much of this effort was aimed at moving IT problems away from end users, explained Warren. "It's the IT department doing what they should: taking away the hassles -- not just doing the exciting things -- and making sure [routine operations] are done 'enterprise well.'"

Deakin already has an older Quantum|ATL library but more storage was needed. "Because the university is multi-campus, there is a significant amount of data at Melbourne and Geelong, but relatively thin pipes between the sites," said Warren. ('Thin' is definitely relative: he is referring to 300 megabit links.)

Consequently, the new unit will stay in Geelong and the old library will be relocated to Melbourne once the university has verified the new SuperDLT drives really are compatible with the old DLT 8000 tapes. Warren reports no problems have been encountered, but since the two libraries will be 100km apart he wants to be sure the compatibility is as claimed.

Despite the seemingly huge capacity of the P7000, Warren only expects it to provide "a couple of years of breathing space" as the university's requirements continue to grow.

See ZDNet UK's Enterprise Channel for full coverage.

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