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IBM introduces Diamondback tape library for cloud providers

IBM's Diamondback tape library delivers 27 PB of capacity in a single rack space. The technology is geared to cloud and service providers as cheap, efficient storage.

IBM introduced an efficient, no-frills tape library for service providers and enterprises with extremely large storage needs and concerns about security and sustainability.

At the 2022 Open Compute Project Global Summit this week, IBM launched its Diamondback tape library, an LTO-formatted offering that provides up to 27 petabytes (PB) of capacity in a single rack. The Diamondback features rapid deployment and self-maintenance. The storage creates a physical air gap, or an isolated backup copy.

Storage capacity needs continue to outgrow the budgets to store, protect and manage data, said Henry Baltazar, research director for storage at 451 Research, a New York City-based technology research firm. The rise of inflation and higher energy costs compound the problem.

"You have to start [storing data] more efficiently to be able to get value and to be able to keep doing the job right," he said.

Tape might not sound like an exciting storage technology until customers look at the power bill and capacity needs, Baltazar added.

Plug-and-play capacity

Diamondback can provide fast deployment -- 30 minutes or less. It comes without traditional tape library features, such as redundant parts or multiple robots, said Scott Baker, IBM's chief marketing officer and vice president of IBM's hybrid cloud portfolio.

Example of the IBM Diamondback tape library.
The IBM Diamondback tape library brings 27 PB of capacity in a single rack space.

One analyst described IBM Diamondback as a simple way to use tape that does not require hard-to-find expertise for setup or use.

Simplicity is both a strength and a weakness. Service and cloud providers using Diamondback can only scale out or add another unit, which takes up more floor space, said Johnny Yu, research director at IDC in Needham, Mass. They might want to build on the library instead.

"With simplicity comes the inability to do much else with it," Yu said. However, for most of Diamondback's customer base, this simplicity is exactly what they want.

Data protection and sustainability

IBM also trumpeted two additional qualities that tape provides: cyber resiliency due to the physical disconnection of the backup, and sustainability because it stores data offline.

Shipments of LTO tapes rose sharply in 2021 partly due to tape's ability to help combat ransomware by giving organizations an air-gapped, immutable backup, noted Christophe Bertrand, analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, a division of TechTarget.

Tape is also energy-efficient because it doesn't consume power unless it's in use and generates little heat that needs to be dissipated, Bertrand added. Density also plays a factor here, he said, as the IBM Diamondback grants 27 PB of capacity in a small footprint, needing less power for that data.

Adam Armstrong is a TechTarget Editorial news writer covering file and block storage hardware and private clouds. He previously worked at

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