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On October 20th of 2022, IBM announced their latest generation of ultra-scalable tape library – the TS6000 "Diamondback". The Diamondback library was designed in tandem with hyperscaler providers to meet the next generation data storage and archival needs of large data centers. The key improvements over earlier generations focus on performance, ultra-high density and reduced complexity.

A single Diamondback enclosure can hold 14 LTO-9 tape drives and up to 28.5 PB of data in a standard 19" rack footprint. Early results show that it is 148% faster than its predecessor, the IBM TS4500. It is designed to be rapidly deployed and configured, with an average deployment time of less than 30 minutes. It also supports pre-loading of tape media prior to shipment. For reliability, data can be striped for up to 20 nines of data durability.

Next generation features

The biggest difference between Diamondback and earlier tape libraries is how it tiers data. Traditional tape libraries store data somewhat arbitrarily which results in a mostly flat performance curve. The Diamondback has 10 tiers (Tier 0 – Tier 9) of tape storage, which are laid out front to back within the library. Each tier increases the latency of the data retrieval, so older data is naturally rotated backward in the library as it ages. Depending on the data being stored, analysis shows that between 80-90% of tape mounts occur in the tier 0 rank, which results in dramatic performance improvements over traditional tape library retrieval methods.

Another significant change to the Diamondback architecture is the elimination of expansion cabinets. For the earlier TS4500 line, libraries were expanded horizontally to add drives and slot capacity. While effective, this method complicated expansion in data centers since it required available space directly next to the existing library. It also reduced reliability due to the physical distance the robots need to traverse to retrieve cartridges. With Diamondback, libraries are treated as standalone Storage Pods. Pods are logically expanded with the addition of one or more racks and the data is erasure coded across the library to increase performance as enclosures are added. This library striping method is referred to as "RAIL", or Redundant Array of Independent Libraries, which is analogous to the RAID data striping method used by primary storage.

Cyber resiliency

Like other tape solutions, Diamondback is inherently cyber resilient due to the air gapped nature of tape storage. Cartridges can also be configured as Write-Once, Read Many (WORM) for regulatory compliance and to ensure data integrity is preserved in the event of a cyber attack. Library encryption is managed by IBM's GKLM encryption manager to protect the library from potential data breaches. Additionally, the erasure coding capability of Diamondback protects data availability

Simplified maintenance

Because data center security is becoming more critical than ever, emphasis has been put upon the self-maintainability of hardware. Customers want to reduce onsite vendor maintenance as much as possible to minimize the number of personnel with access to their most vital infrastructure. The IBM Diamondback library was designed for maximum self-sustainability. It is 99% customer serviceable, which virtually eliminates the need for IBM onsite service. 

Worth noting, the Diamondback is not a replacement for the existing IBM TS4500 tape library. The TS4500 offers more flexibility in tape drives and would likely be the better choice for "lights out" data center deployments. Diamondback is the better choice for customers that need high performance with large scale data storage and archival.  As mentioned earlier, the other primary use case is for highly secure data centers looking to reduce onsite vendor maintenance as much as possible. 

Explore IBM's latest tape archive solution

The IBM family of tape solutions can meet the most demanding performance and resiliency needs, at a fraction of the cost of cloud or high-density spinning disk storage.  

WWT can help your company evaluate and choose the right tape solution to meet your needs. WWT is an IBM-designated global and regional systems integrator (SI) and solution provider, and we know how important data protection is for modern companies. We encourage your organization to take a holistic approach to data resilience.

Get advice on data resiliency from a WWT IBM expert.

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