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Quantum Tape Drives Speak Up

But will monitoring features really help Quantum's DLT win against LTO and AIT?

Quantum Corp. (NYSE: DSS) is rolling out management features for its DLT (Digital Linear Tape) drives in the hopes that they'll help the company recapture market share it has lost to LTO and AIT in the midrange backup market.

However, to support the new DLTsage features, Quantum's existing Super DLT (SDLT) 320 and 220 drives will require firmware upgrades, and the company has limited plans to support older units -- both of which will limit the overall usefulness of DLTsage for most customers.

DLTsage is supposed to let administrators find out the status of individual tape drives in three different ways: via a proprietary management interface; via infrared wireless to a handheld Pocket PC device; or to third-party backup software via standard "tape alerts."

Basically, the features are intended to eliminate the guesswork that is typically involved when a backup session fails, says Steven Berens, senior director of product marketing and strategy at Quantum. With DLTsage, according to Quantum, a user can easily find out whether a backup failed because of a malfunctioning drive and then locate that drive. "The biggest frustration with managing tape drives is not knowing what's going on," he says.

The company developed DLTsage for its Super DLT 600 tape drives, which it expects to start shipping by early fourth quarter of 2003. Quantum says the SDLT 600 format provides 64 MByte/s of throughput and 640 GBytes of capacity, or roughly double the current generation of SDLT 320 drives (see Quantum Tapes Up Roadmap).

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