Frustrated? HP Responds

Posted on by Larry

A few days ago, I wrote about my frustrations in finding archiving solutions that work on the Mac for protecting our video assets. (You can read that blog here — some of the comments are VERY interesting!)

The day after that posted, I had a long phone conversation with the executive team at Cache-A (which I can tell you about after NAB), plus a long email from HP.

Since I spent much of my post complaining about the HP gear, I wanted to share their response with you. This was written by Laura Loredo, World Wide Product Marketing Manager for HP-Nearline.


Larry,

I would like to apologize for your frustration trying to install the HP LTO-5 tape drive with LTFS.

My understanding is that most of your frustration came from trying to do a firmware upgrade. Unfortunately an old drive was sent to you that didn’t have the correct code. I can assure you that current shipping drives come with the correct firmware and customers do not have to spend 2 weeks of their time, and go through 30 steps, to get this done. I am really sorry that such a drive was sent to you and wasted your time.

By avoiding the firmware upgrade, the software install instructions would have been like this:

1) Install MacFuse (download from http://code.google.com/p/macfuse/)

2) Install two packages (download from ttp://hp.com/go/ltfs)

3) create a new directory in Finder. I’ll call it ‘mydirectory’.

4) Format and mount your tape (much like you would for a new disk). This requires two commands from a terminal window. The first command formats the drive:

mkltfs -d 0

The second mounts the drive

ltfs mydirectory [for “mydirectory” substitute the name of the folder you created in step 3]

Now you are ready to drop your asset directory (or whatever) onto the ltfs icon.

I realize that this still requires a certain level of IT expertise.

In your blog you made some very good recommendations on what you see as a great tape based archiving solution:

* Can be installed easily on the Mac OS

We are learning about mac users and we need some real improvements in our whole set up process. This is why your feedback is much appreciated.

* Is willing to list the product and its price on their website

Go to: www.hp.com/go/LTO you can find products and the prices for the LTO-5 tape drives.

* Has an announced shipping date

HP LTO-5 tape drives have been shipping since March 2010, LTFS since June 2010 – www.hp.com/go/ltfs

* Has an announced price of between $2,000 and $4,000

HP LTO-5 Ultrium 3000 tape drives can be bought at less than $3,000.

http://www.google.co.uk/products/catalog?q=hp+lto-5+ultrium+3000+external&hl=en&um=1&ie=UTF-8&cid=6433306862412258802&sa=X&ei=q1OHTeWsJdS3twf8j_TGBA&ved=0CFkQ8wIwAQ#

* Can connect to Macs via Thunderbolt or Firewire

This will be a major R&D project, but something we will be taking into account.

* Supports the LTO-5 standard, which makes file backup/restore VERY easy

* And includes archiving software that can be run by mere mortals and not IT gods…

With LTFS there is no need for special archiving software, you can drag and drop onto the tape device, just like you do when you use a disk for archiving.

This is the first time our products connect into the Mac environment, so much work is required in order to improve the overall customer experience.

If you would like to have a chat about any of these issues please let me know and we can arrange for a call.

Thank you very much for taking the time to look into this new technology.

Regards,

Laura Loredo

World Wide Product Marketing Manager


I want to thank Laura for taking the time to read and reply to this issue. Unless we solve this problem soon, archiving video assets is only going to get worse. I look forward to tape backup vendors providing products that meet the needs, and price-points, of video producers around the world.

The reason HP, and others, need to seriously think about how their tape drives connect to computers is that only the MacPro tower supports mini-SAS connections. And the majority of video editors are working with laptops and iMacs which don’t support mini-SAS. In other words, mini-SAS prevents HP from selling their products to potentially millions of editors that need to archive their assets.

Yes, it is an R&D effort. On the other hand, this effort opens up a vast, new market.

One last note, the LTFS File System allows users to simply drag files on top of the icon for their tape backup system to copy a file. However, as you would expect, tape drives are much slower than hard disks, so files take a while to transfer or restore. Also, if you know where a file is located (folder and path) you can easily find it using LTFS. However, at this point, LTFS is not yet integrated with Spotlight, so, for people not familiar with Unix command line search syntax, its search capabilities are less robust than we would expect.

Still, LTFS is a HUGE step in the right direction.

As always, let me know what you think.

Larry


2 Responses to Frustrated? HP Responds

  1. Carl Olson says:

    HP’s response is a huge step in the right direction, but they will have to get away from having the user enter commands in Terminal. That is just asking for trouble. Also, going forward, they are going to have to support Thunderbolt.

    Archiving, backups, and current in-progress projects all are a huge problem for me. So much time is taken just shuttling data back and forth.

    For intermediate projects I’ve been attempting to incorporate the Drobo Elite with iSCSI into my workflow. It works, but it’s still relatively slow. I managed to boost the data transfer speed up a tad by adjusting the iSCSI settings to use jumbo frames – but alas not all Macs allow you to adjust MTU settings to use jumbo frames. And why in the world are users having to get that geeky anyway to eek out a little more speed. Ouch!

    Thanks for keeping this topic to the fore. Media management may be boring, but it’s vital for a productive, secure workflow.

  2. stu aull says:

    Larry – thanks for passing this on and keeping on top of these Folks! Ideally if they will let you play with a the CORRECT versions of their product we can all get a Real World sense of just what LTO5, et al is really all about.

    My thanks for your continued research in this important area of video production!!!!

    Also, an “upcoming webinar, New LTO Tape File System Helps Make Video Storage Easy, sponsored by Ultrium LTO and hosted by Videography”. Is on Wed, sponsored by Webinars@nbmedia.com
    Might be worth a gander…

    Stu Aull
    Alaska

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