Access your backup data quickly

Are you looking for a new backup device but don't want to implement the 4mm, 8mm, or DLT solutions currently on the market? Perhaps you want a tape backup subsystem designed for complex data-processing environments. You need to try IBM's 3570 Magstar Multi-Purpose (MP) Tape Subsystem.

The 3570 Magstar ships in a variety of configurations, from a one-drive, rack-mount unit to a six-drive, high-capacity library. The configuration you purchase depends on how you will use the subsystem. For example, you might purchase the rack-mount version to add to an existing equipment rack. Each drive handles a 5GB tape. The tapes store as much as 15GB, based on 3:1 LZ1 compression.

The 3570 Magstar uses a new tape technology called Fast Access Linear Tape, which provides faster access to data than competing technologies provide. The 3570 Magstar has impressive response times: The subsystem loads a cartridge in 5.6 seconds, searches and repositions a cartridge in 8.8 seconds, rewinds a cartridge in 8 seconds, and ejects a cartridge in 4 seconds.

My Test Unit
The 3570 Magstar subsystem that I tested held 20 cartridges and offered a native capacity of 100GB (or 300GB with compression). My test unit weighed 100 pounds and measured 8.5" * 19" * 30.4". I needed help unpacking the unit, but I easily installed and configured it.

The unit uses a standard SCSI II differential interface and includes an Adaptec differential SCSI controller. My test unit didn't include software, so I installed the SCSI host adapter on my Digital Prioris HX590 Windows NT 4.0 server and configured the SCSI adapter into an NT SCSI controller. I connected the tape drive to the SCSI chain, powered up the unit, and restarted my NT server.

To test the subsystem, I used Computer Associates' ARCserve 6.5 for Windows NT. After I launched the software and selected the configuration screens, I added the new tape subsystem to a tape group I named IBMTAPE. I created a master backup job on my NT system using ARCserve so I could back up my entire system (which included SQL Server databases and an Exchange Server information store) onto the tape.

According to IBM's documentation, the 3570 Magstar's backup data throughput speed is 7MB per second (MBps). The system didn't perform as well for me, but I wasn't surprised. Several factors affected the 3570 Magstar's performance. My Prioris HX590 is more than 3 years old, and its disk subsystem isn't up to par with today's high-throughput systems. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and the Prioris' weak SCSI subsystem slowed the 3570 Magstar down. I've also discovered (during previous testing) that ARCserve isn't the fastest tape backup software, despite its popularity among systems administrators.

The 3570 Magstar has no apparent drawbacks other than its entry level price. However, you receive a 20-cartridge automated system, as well as a full 3-year warranty on parts and labor and 24-hour technical support, which make the high price easier to accept.

3570 Magstar MP Tape Subsystem
Contact: IBM * 770-863-1234 or 800-426-4968
Web: http://www.storage.ibm.com
Price: Starts at $14,900
System Configuration: Windows NT 4.0 server, 3570 Magstar MP Tape Subsystem