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EMC Buys Bus-Tech; Eyes Bigger Slice Of $2.5B Tape Market

EMC is buying its long-time virtual tape library (VTL) partner Bus-Tech, Inc. to grab a bigger slice of the $2.5 billion tape market. According to IDC estimates provided by EMC, mainframe tape storage and media revenues will be $2.5 billion between 2010 and 2014. The latest addition to the EMC Backup Recovery Systems division has only a small share, says Shane Jackson, BRS senior director of product marketing. In a conference call following the announcement of the acquisition, he explained how the two companies had been working together, the reasons for the deal, and what the market can expect going forward.

Privately held Bus-Tech, which was founded in 1987, provides VTL solutions that utilize open systems disk storage to store and retrieve mainframe tape data. Called a leader in mainframe tape emulation, it has three core products, the Mainframe Disk Library (MDL), the zDASD 3990 Controller and the Dlm VTEs (MDLs via EMC). It's been a member of the EMC Select partner program since 2004, and has been an EMC OEM partner since March of 2008. In July it collaborated with EMC on the Deduplication Storage Expansion option for the EMC DLm960 Disk Library for Mainframe, which was based on the EMC Data Domain DD880 deduplication storage system.

There were a number of reasons why EMC chose to change its relationship with Bus-Tech, says Jackson, including the fact that aging tape silos are at the end of their service life, so a major refresh is in the works. The two companies have been chasing after this business, but together they can be a lot more aggressive. BSR also has a stronger message as one entity, making it more compelling for customers to consider a complete EMC solution that's integrated and supported by one vendor.

That value proposition has been a strength of IBM, says Jackson, and now EMC can offer its own complete solution and compete better. "You can never get to the same level of integration and supportability (as a single vendor can)."

Jackson says the tape market is clearly on the downward trend, but the opportunity for VTL technology and EMC is tape's sore points, not capacity cost, but performance and reliance. "That's where users are feeling the most pain."

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