The Annual Forum Conference, Forum 96 Trip Report -- George Maclin, Dave Marcello


FORUM is an annual user group conference for customers of Storage Technology Corporation. It provides an opportunity for StorageTek customers to establish and maintain contact with the vendor, exchange ideas and seek solutions among themselves, and to influence product directions. During the week of October 7, 1996, we attended the second annual Forum Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. There were representatives from 540 companies from 16 countries at the Forum. Forum 96 was a three day conference, combined with a one day meeting with LTUG or the Large Tape Users Group. Forum 96 also shared the limelight with Albuquerque's 50th Annual Balloon Festival. One morning at 0530 they gave us throw-away cameras and bused us to the balloon festival to see the mass ascension. We were only at the festival for a couple of hours, but it was a quite experience. StorageTek stretched this experience even further, by raffling off several balloon rides. Unfortunately, we were not among the recipients.

The conference featured five daily presentations under the following headings, Emerging Applications, Education and ten daily presentations under heading of Enterprise solutions. During each hour, there were at least four concurrent presentations. The presenters were customers, affiliates and partners of Storage Technology Corporation. The conference began with a keynote presentation from Dave Weiss, the CEO of Storage Technology Corporation. The title of the presentation was, "Cars, Catalogues and Hamburgers." He talked about StorageTek's market position, their strategy and their financial strength. He said their stock was undervalued and they were going to buy some of it back. Each day following lunch, there was a keynote presentation. We essentially learned that only 5% of world's data is on magnetic media and that StorageTek as a leader in automatic libraries is ready to take advantage of an expanding market. Bob Levy, a former IBMer, from Advanced Technology Solutions Company, was the only StorageTek outsider that gave a keynote presentation. His presentation was titled, "Thriving Tomorrow on Yesterday's Problems." He essentially said today's problems are really yesterday's problems and that there are "few if any new problems." He said the problem of finding a floppy disk when you are traveling can be solved by buying a magazine with the AOL disk in it. He concluded the presentation with tomorrow's solutions; experience, rightsizing, platform independence, process oriented, commodity systems and ISV's.


Silos, EVM's & the Internet/World Wide Web -- Michael Murphy, Ph.D., Ryerson Polytechnic University, Toronto, Canada

The Rogers Communication Centre at Ryerson Polytechnic University is Canada's premiere facility for degrees, research and professional development of electronic media and digital communications. Ryerson has been working with StorageTek to develop digital media storage and delivery solutions appropriate for the broadcast, post production and education environment using digital radio automation. This collaboration is the "mediaBridge project." It is a proof-of-concept initiative to demonstrate the feasibility of using network-based service object for professional media producers. Ryerson is also developing multimedia courseware for local and distance education programs using course vault concept with internet delivery. They also plan to use the "mediaBridge" to deliver their courses.

Michael encouraged us to try some of their free courses. Reyerson is proud to be the world's first EVM or Educational Video Media-modules enabled web server and the first multi-teribyte capable website. To put this in perspective, one teribyte will hold approximately 500 digitized copies of the movie Eraser. This website also has live radio broadcast. For an in-depth review of Ryerson’s project with Apache and Cobra visit their website.

Media & Archival Stability of Cro2& MP+Magnetic Media -- Glenn Jacobsen, Imation Data Storage Division

This discussion was on media lifetime and archival stability. Media lifetime is the length of time that the media can be written to, stored to and successfully read. Research result indicates that Cro2 or Chromium Dioxide and MP+ or magnetic particles are suitable for frequent access and archival storage and have an expected lifetime of 15 - 30 years.

Other factors affecting media lifetime and stability are device and media obsolescence, manufacturing quality; the chemical and mechanical condition of magnetic coating, media wear, debris generation and handling. A study of media wear on the Redwood MP+ cartridge; showed that after 20,000 full-reel passes and over 70,000 shoeshine passes on a Redwood SD-3 Helical Tape subsystem; there was no significant wear or affect on the signal amplitudes. The Redwood SD-3 drives provide 50 fold improvement in data integrity over earlier helical scan technologies. Such features as lower tape tension, multi-head design and stop-motion detection attributed to the improvement.

Recommendations for extending media lifetimes: Control the environmental conditions in operating, storing, transporting and archiving. Insure that tapes retrieved from archive are acclimatized before they are used.. We suggest that cartridges that contain mission critical data be recycled before they exceed their life expectancy.

Snapshot In Time -- David Cotter, Storage Technology Corporation

Snapshot is StorageTek's most advance method of duplicating data. Snapshot copies pointers instead of data. The Snapshot Copy feature provides a "point in time" copy of an entire disk volume within seconds. Then the "point in time" copy is backed up to tape without disrupting the availability of the data. Snapshot also works with Databases, application test environment, data warehousing and mining, disaster recovery. Snapshot reduces the duration of backups and increases the opportunity for backups. It eliminates I/O activity of the copy process, it is independent of the data size, and backups are run when needed, not when time permits. Snapshot run times were compared with IEBGENER 44 minutes vs. 16 seconds and IEBCOPY 214.2 sec. vs. 18 sec. The following steps were recommended. Learn and understand Snapshot, review current backup strategies, review current data copy procedures, review disaster recovery procedures, review scheduling logic, and design changes to current processes to exploit Snapshot. The requirements for Snapshot are a mainframe, Iceberg disk subsystem, and Iceberg Extended Facility Product (IXFP) software. See Snapshot for technical information.

Baseball, Communication & Intranets -- Jay Biddle, Webmaster, Storage Technology Corporation

This discussion turned out to be about the StorageTek Website and the Customer Resource Center's web page. You must have a password to access some of the links. Jay Biddle apologized for the password restrictions. He also said eventually some of the password restrictions will be eliminated. The Customer Resource Center's web page can be used to browse and download technical documentation (software manuals), code maintenance, problem reporting, and FAQ's. Software problems can still be reported over the phone. The web is simply another way of reporting software problems to the same people. Passwords for the website were available at the conference. They can also be obtained from the website. "". Throughout our trip report we have several links to the StorageTek website. This was done whenever we felt additional information would be useful. Jay Biddle is also StorageTek's representative for LTUG's Open System Group.

200 Millions Pages At Your Fingertips -- Alain Lambert, European Patent Office

This discussion followed the patent granting procedure of the European Patient Office. The objective of the EPO was integration in existing mainframe architecture, access through OS/2 and UNIX, all documents available to the examiner within minutes, object oriented document management and backup. The European Patient Office has a documentation server that contains the world's total documentation of industrial technology in patients and literature. The system is based on MVS and CICS and uses 6 StorageTek Powderhorns with 48 transports to store 250 million pages, managed as 24 million documents. Users access the images on 180 GB Iceberg functioning as a disk cache. 90% of the patent applications are filed online. There are 100,000 patent searches each year. Each patent search generates about 13, 000 documents, then they are narrowed down to approximately 10 documents after the search. They use French search engines. They have 34,000 3490 cartridges. They preferred 100 MB cartridges over Redwood cartridges. They also had some experience with optical disks, but did not find them suitable for their application. The source cartridges and 1/4 of all the backup cartridges are always online. They have had major problems managing and queuing of UNIX printers. Clients are windows 95, MVS and UNIX. The clients get their information from the servers. The servers do not get the information from the clients. They also use displays with 19" screens and 1600 x 1200 dpi.

MCA Universal Preparing For The Future With StorageTek -- Dan Stanton, MCA/Universal Studios

This presentation explained how MCA/Universal Studios grew from a small one mainframe data center in 1992 to a mega-center in 1996 with several mainframes, servers, and extensive data center automation. MCA makes movies, they're into retail, publishing, music industry, MCA TV, home entertainment, Seagrams, Universal Studios in Florida and California. They reduced their operations staff to 1 operator per shift (24 x 7). There were no layoffs. They retrained their operations staff promoted them to the applications group.

In 1992, MCA got their first clipper doors. This was a big help to operations. In 1994, MCA got their first ESTOR, a 4410 library without tape drives, and their first Iceberg DASD with 3:1 compression. In 1995 they added 80 servers (Novell and RS6000s), they also got an IBM 9672 CMOS air cooled mainframe.

MCA has the following library configurations, one VM and VSE, and four MVS. As of 8/96, MCA has 5 Powdershorns, 42 tape drives, 85,000 cartridges, 4 Timberline 36 track tape drives, STK Iceberg DASD (700 GB), ECM Sysmetric 5500 (500GB), Wolfcreek with 6 drives.

Currently MCA does not store any of its movies on cartridges, but they are looking into video on demand or digitized movies. MCA is very conservative, they still have a 2540 on the floor, but no one uses it. Dan Stanton said MCA was able to achieve growth in a series of phases with minimal impact on data center personnel with StorageTek technology. They plan to look into the Redwood technology.

ExLM, Expert Library Manager For ACS Cartridge System -- Cari Simson, StorageTek

ExLM is a StorageTek software product that manages scratch volumes, nonscratch volumes, cleaning cartridges and free cells within one or more ACS running HSC. ExLM came out in 1990, and it is currently at rel 2.1. It supports multiple media (3480, 3490E, and helical scan). It uses enhanced method assignment, Boolean logic. It checks up to 50 fields and offers cleaning cartridge support. It has improved HSC CDS access. This is a menu driven system, and it supports IBM's Sysplex environments up to 256 hosts. It also supports multiple TMS not on shared DASD. TCPIP and ISPF invoked. The default method is based on last used and it will eject cartridges to make room for more enters. See ExLM for more detailed technical information.

CAM In A UNIX Environment With D3 Drives -- Dale Podoll, Joint Intelligence Center Pacific (JICPAC)

CAM (Central Archive Management) at JICPAC. JICPAC was established in 1991, it has four locations and they are Pearl Harbor, Hickam AFB, San Diego and Japan. Storage background, first 4410 - 1991, nearnet beta site - 1994, first 9310 - 1994, CAM at remote nodes - 1996, SAM-FS for Solaris migration - June 1996, Redwood drives - July 1996. Current configurations, Japan and San Diego FDDI attached CAM to 9360 and two 4490 CDs; Pearl Harbor FDDI attached Nearnet sharing 4410 four 4480 CDs for Nearnet, four 4480 CDs for IBM; Hickam AFB FDDI attached Nearnet to 9310, four 4480 CDs, FDDI attached SAM-FS with four D3 drives; E-net attached CAM has four 4480 CDs. SAM-FS overview: hierarchical storage management, unlimited storage, high performance data management, multiple hierarchies, secondary storage on tape or optical disk and a robust disaster recovery. The benefits of SAM-FS departmental server distributed, full rated streaming speed for high speed tape devices, files greater than 2GB supported, large number of devices supported. SAM-FS uses NFS, ftp, rcp, remote client access; files are cached to magnetic disk; files migrated from magnetic disk to optical jukebox and/or tape library. For additional information check out CAM.


Meta-Label (Nondisclosure Presentation) This presentation attracted a large crowd. There was usually standing room only. The Meta-label is a new way of managing the data on a tape cartridge as wells managing or facilitating tape handling. A prototype was demonstrated. We recommend that SLAC follow progress of the meta-label.

The BOFs also allowed us to get up close and personal with StorageTek and its partners' products. Many of those who had given presentations during the day were available for questions and demos. We also got a chance to make connections. The BOFs only covered the first two days of the conference.

LTUG (Large Tape User Group)

The StorageTek Large Tape Users Group or LTUG is to provide a forum for very large users of StorageTek robotics tape silos to discuss common concerns and issues related to running very large data centers. The groups provide a comfortable environment for its members to talk to each other and to StorageTek management.

To be a member of LTUG, you must own and/or operate five or more silos. In may 1995, LTUG had 18 members, today it has 180 members. We are now members, and we strongly recommend that SLAC continues to maintain its representation in LTUG. LTUG has 5 officers. One of them is Steve McElewaney, who is the president. We asked him what it was like being the president of LTUG. Steve said that he enjoyed it most of the time, but he felt his current job had taken him away from the silos. He said that he receives over a hundred mail items a day, and he responds to all of them. LTUG is driven by the following committees and committee chairpersons: Hardware - Lee Decker, Software - Gary Crabill, Performance Tools - Renee DeSalvatore, Open Systems - Robyne Sumpter . LTUG meets twice a year, in May and in October. The October meeting is scheduled right after the Annual Forum Conference. LTUG has no membership dues. Both Steve McElewaney and Robyne Sumpter said that LTUG did not want to setup the organizational structure needed to support dues. All of their communication is through e-mail and LTUG reflectors. There is one reflector for each committee. If an LTUG member has a question about media, silos, software, hardware or (operations) procedures, the question can be sent to one of the reflectors, e.g., the Open System reflector is "". The reflector will forward the question to all of the members or subscribers of the reflector. If any of the subscribers of the reflectors is able to answer your questions you should get a response. Hence no response probably means no one has a suitable answer. We belong to the following reflectors, Tools, Hardware and Open Systems. The next LTUG meeting will be held in May 1997, in Denver. We recommend that SLAC be represented at this meeting. Also you must attend the meeting in order to be allowed vote on outstanding issues.

October 10, 1996 semi-annual LTUG General Meeting

The LTUG conference title was "Making Connections" it begin with registration at 0715, and it ran the course of the day. There were lots of committee meetings. After breakfast, there was an executive committee Welcome. Then each committee chairperson gave a status report on open and closed issues. Open issues are work in progress and closed issues are issues that have been resolved.

Hardware issues:

Tools issues:

Open systems issues:

The open systems group want ACSLS to have the same features as HSC. They requested a view command and assigned a priority to it. So this is in STK's queue, but the priority is not very high. All of their open issues are about getting better statistics and diagnostic information from ACSLS.

Software issues:

Additional Information

George was in a group that discussed Redwood drives. No one in the group had any real first hand experience with Redwood drives in a production environment, except for MCI. In fact, some of the participants in this group did not own any Redwood drives. Everybody agreed that Redwood drives and their maintenance costs are too expensive. The Redwood drives also introduced new problems, such as multiple tape spanning and mixed media. There was also some concern about what applications would benefit from using Redwood drives. Invariably, the response was deep archive. There was some discussion of how to maximize benefits derived from the Redwood features by balancing the optimal number of Redwood cartridges with number of Redwood drives installed in the ACS. There were also other enterprises that were at the conference who were successfully using Redwood drives, and were very pleased with them, but they were not present at the LTUG meeting.

Dave was with the Tools groups. They discussed MONTAPE a mainframe tape monitoring system. The majority of the time was spent discussing the problems with EXPR in downloading to PCs, and whether or not it was suitable for large shops. The problems were presented to the StorageTek project manager, Paul Aukland.

StorageTek will test others Redwood cartridges, but it will only certify Redwood cartridges made by StorageTek or a StorageTek partner. This came from one of the StorageTek managers.

LC is the unification of HSC and ACSLS, it stands for Library Control. More succinctly, it is the library control software that will replace HSC and ACSLS. LC is at least a couple of years or more away. There were no clues about its availability. We recommend that SLAC follow the progress of LC.

Through solicitation, we leaned that some of the companies at the conference indicated that 3M put the external labels on their cartridges and initialized them, because it is more cost effective. We recommend that SLAC look into to this.


We attended several of the presentations over the three day conference. Many of the presentations were for mainframe owners or users. Only the presentations that we thought would be of interest are in our trip report. The conference gave us an opportunity to discuss our experiences with other StorageTek customers, and to explore common interest. It also gave us a chance review StorageTek's products and interact with them for an immediate or nearline response. We also learned about StorageTek's Customer Resource Center, and how to use it. The LTUG meeting was an excellent forum for persuading STK to address common areas of interest. We are willing to loan out the materials we bought back to anyone. We have the foils on most of presentations and some of the product announcements from STK. We also have a list of LTUG members and their phone numbers. If you have any questions about the conference please send them to george@slac or marcello@slac.