ADIC Embraces Latest Storage Tape Standard - LTO

SAN FRANCISCO (08/24/2000) - Advanced Digital Information Corp. (ADIC) Thursday announced strong support for the latest tape storage standard -- LTO (linear tape open). The U.S. storage specialist plans to launch a new range of LTO-based automated tape libraries covering its full product portfolio. The new standard will enable midrange tape libraries to match some of the storage capabilities of current mainframe-level systems, ADIC said.

ADIC's LTO tape libraries are due to begin shipping next month, according to company executives Steve Whitner, ADIC director of marketing, and Kevin Honeycutt, the vendor's executive director of product marketing.

The need for increased automated storage products is being driven by the Internet, electronic commerce and the growth in users' adoption of storage technologies such as SANs (storage area networks) and NAS (network attached storage), Whitner said. "Data is growing 50 to 100 percent per year, it's (a case of) digital everything," he added, pointing out that the need to store video and other broadcast media is increasing too.

Automated tape libraries are data storage systems containing multiple tape cartridges on storage racks. When information on a specific cartridge needs to be accessed, the library automatically finds the cartridge and loads it into a drive.

ADIC's range of LTO tape libraries will span its FastStor autoloader, its Scalar 100 midrange library, its Scalar 1000 data center library and its enterprise-level AML automated mixed media library, Whitner and Honeycutt said.

Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp. and Seagate Technology Inc. developed the open magnetic tape standard LTO and began licensing it to third-party vendors in April 1998. Big Blue announced late last week plans to ship its first LTO drives and libraries. [See "IBM Ships First Ultra-Linear Tape," Aug. 17.]LTO is a multivendor standard allowing, for instance, a tape written on an IBM drive to be read on a drive from another LTO licensee; however, the standard is not backwardly compatible with other tape standards such as market incumbent DLT (digital linear tape). DLT was first developed by Digital Equipment Corp. and later acquired by Quantum Corp. Quantum is working on a successor to DLT known as SuperDLT.

LTO comes in two flavors -- Ultrium, providing capacity levels of up to 200G bytes (assuming a 2:1 compression ratio), and Accelis, offering fast access times of below 10 seconds. The new ADIC products are based on IBM's LTO Ultrium technology.

ADIC's AML storage libraries integrating LTO Ultrium will be able to offer over 5 petabytes of native storage, supporting a maximum of 400 drives in one library, the storage specialist claims.

Storage analysts had differing opinions on how quickly users will move to adopt LTO.

"Online storage requirements are growing so fast and backup is lacking, so the rate of (LTO) adoption will be fast and furious," said Steve Duplessie, senior analyst with The Enterprise Storage Group Inc., based in Milford, Massachusetts. He doesn't expect products supporting LTO's rival SuperDLT to appear in the market until late this year or more likely early in 2001. "Those adopting LTO will be dot-coms and anyone who feels the pain of backup. LTO offers very high performance and very high density," Duplessie added.

As for market incumbent technology DLT, the advent of LTO may result in a standards battle, he warned. "The situation parallels DLT vs. 8-millimeter adoption rates, we all thought it'd be a slow rate, but DLT almost immediately killed 8 millimeter," Duplessie said. "It could happen (again), with the market forces in favor of very high performance and very high density... LTO has got the opportunity over the next six to nine months to kick some serious butt."More conservative in his estimations was Bob Amatruda, research manager with market research company International Data Corp. (IDC), based in Framingham, Massachusetts.

"The removable storage marketplace tends to move very slowly, users have a lot of investment in the tape cartridges and libraries they've already bought into, they won't move overnight to new technologies," Amatruda said.

Although dot-coms who are not likely to already own tape libraries are in a much better position to buy into LTO, they traditionally don't tend to use a lot of tape storage and for storing dot-coms' applications, "tape is not a great fit for, it's all about restore times," Amatruda said.

In terms of price, ADIC's Whitner and Honeycutt expect the LTO Ultrium tape libraries to be approximately in the order of US$10,000 for FastStor, about $20,000 for Scalar 100, around $60,000 for Scalar 1000 and anywhere between $200,000 to $750,000 for ADIC's AML/J libraries.

ADIC, based in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at +1-425-881-8004 or via the Internet at http://www.adic.com/. For more information about the LTO standard, see http://www.lto-technology.com/.

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