The future of tape technology in oil and gas

SpectrumData CEO Guy Holmes anticipates a move to Fiber Channel and 3592 tape devices.

Over the last year, the move from IBM 3590 cartridges to the new 3592 media and tape drive technology has started in earnest in the oil and gas industry. This change has been driven mainly by the capacity of the new tapes—currently up to 300GB—compared with the 60 GB maximum capacity of the older 3590E.

10 years

The 3590 has enjoyed over ten years of acceptance within the industry. Amazingly, even at this stage, it is still relatively well thought of, despite the initial high cost of the drive technology, and its now relative low capacity when compared to other media types such as SDLT and LTO.


The 3592 tape drive has already been superseded by the TS1120. IBM announced in September 2006 that the 3592 J1A drive was a discontinued product line. The TS1120 tape drive is the future of the seismic acquisition and processing.

Service companies

Historically, oil and gas companies have been led by the acquisition service companies when it comes to storage technology, especially in seismic acquisition technology. Seismic boats require the high availability, low maintenance and reliability that the TS1120 offers.


The potential downside for industry is that the TS1120 is a Fiber Channel (FCAL), not SCSI, device. This means that standard desktop workstations will not likely be able to communicate with the drive without significant effort or the installation of FCAL to SCSI bridges and software. Notwithstanding FCAL’s drawbacks, it offers unparalleled speed and data access which could outweigh the device’s connectivity issues.

Read Holmes’ full paper on

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