Automated Archiving using IBM Tape Libraries and the StorageQuest Archive Manager

Automated Archiving made easy using volume spanning with StorageQuest Archive Manager and an IBM Tape Library

Many organizations are faced with growing amounts of information. There is an increasing need to cost effectively retain that data for longer periods of time, for the purposes of both legal requirements, and also practical ones.

StorageQuest Archive Manager provides automated management and archiving of data to tape libraries using volume spanning among many LTO-5 media.  IBM Tape Libraries provide a cost effective way to store data as these tape libraries have a very high capacity and consume a low amount of energy compared to other technologies.

This page explains what archiving is and the benefits of archiving with the StorageQuest Archive Manager software, IBM Tape Libraries, the IBM Linear Tape File System ™ (LTFS) and Linear Tape Open™ ( LTO) media.

StorageQuest Inc., a global leader in data and archive management software and hardware in collaboration with the IBM has developed powerful tape archiving management software.  The StorageQuest Archive Manager (SAM) is the certified long term archiving software for IBM Tape Libraries.

Benefits of Archiving to a Tape Library

  • Can store large amounts of data for a long term.  Near-line or offline access to data is easily retrieved.
  • Tape cartridges currently have a life span of 15-30 years.
  • Low total cost of ownership solution.  Cost per Gigabyte is low and future expansion is considerably lower vs other methods of storage for archiving.
  • Green solution.  Energy consumption for power and cooling is 20 – 100 times less expensive than disk solutions.
  • Linear Tape Open cartridges offer high capacity storage and speeds.  The LTO cartridge roadmap has substantial gains in capacity and speed.









Release Date


Dec. 2012



Native Data Capacity

1.5 TB

2.5 TB

6.4 TB

12.8 TB

Max Speed (MB/s)






How the StorageQuest Archive Manager works with the IBM Tape Library

The “SAM” software allows administrators to create volumes representing one or many tape cartridges in one or multiple IBM tape libraries.  Files and folders copied into this volume are automatically flushed out to the tape media in the background and spanned across as many media cartridges as necessary.  This is fully transparent to the client and application.  The volumes show a concatenated view of all the tape cartridges file structure.  The “SAM” software routes all read and write requests to the corresponding cartridge giving the illusion that the client application is accessing a very large storage device even though behind the scenes its being broken up into individual cartridges.

“SAM” creates a virtual drive letter for each of the tape libraries connected to a network.  Files can be written to the media in various ways.  Virtual drive letters allows clients to ‘drag and drop’ important files and folders from local hard drives or networks to the tape library.  Alternatively, you can sync the data of specified folder locations on the network or a local server by having SAM pull new or modified files from the primary storage and write to the tape library in the background.

Applications can also access this drive letter as it appears as a regular hard drive.  Files and folders added to the drive letter are sent to the write cache.  The write cache allows for acceptance of data destined for more tapes and volumes than drives available in the library. This flushing process is controlled by several trigger conditions, where the software will wait to write files until it has either a certain number, or size of files total, before writing. The same is true with the number of files. This is done to prevent tapes from being exchanged between drives too frequently

SAM also has specialized provisions to accommodate temp files and files that are modified frequently to be filtered from writing.

SAM contains an easy to read GUI, with a powerful search capability, so that you can locate files written to any tape across any volume that you’ve created with the system whether the tape cartridge is near-line or offline. Searching can be done with a number of useful criteria, such as which tape the files are on, the status of the files, whether they’ve been written or not, and typical search criteria, like Date Modified, Size, and file name.  When the SAM service requires user intervention for events such as media to be added, or offline media to be re-inserted for data retrieval, it will provide a friendly mail style balloon message to the client administrator locally or as a standalone application across the network.

The software has the ability to replicate data copied to any volume to any other volume, or network drive. This is controlled through volume properties, allowing customers to mirror files to another SAM Volume, or to any other network location. This also works for moving files to an off site storage device for disaster recovery or by creating duplicates and sending them off site.


SAM and the Linear Tape File System (LTFS)

The IBM developed Linear Tape File System (LTFS) is an open format file system specifically written for use with IBM tape drives, libraries and LTO-5 media.  Since this file system is not proprietary the tapes written can be read back in virtually any modern operating system with an LTO-5 drive without any third-party software.

StorageQuest utilizes the standard medium changer command specification for controlling and managing the IBM Changer and moving cartridges between slots, drives and mailslots.  Once the tapes are loaded into the tape drives, StorageQuest uses the IBM LTFS utilities and drivers for identification, erasing, high-level formatting and reading and writing of files and folders.

Since the LTFS software and drivers are integrated into the SAM service all the operations are done in the background without any user intervention required.

The IBM LTFS utilities and drivers provide a high-performance, reliable and portable base for the archiving system.




Tape Archiving System Overview

SAM IBM Overview