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StorageTek Slings SL500

Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek) (NYSE: STK) today moved to restore its position in midrange storage systems by announcing another member of its StreamLine tape library family.

The SL500 is built on the same technology as the high-end StreamLine8500 library, but it's a smaller, dense, modular system that fits 90 tape cartridge slots per square foot.

The SL500's modular design holds from 30 to 577 cartridges, depending on the configuration. The library consists of a base module that contains the robotics and 30 to 50 cartridge slots. It allows customers to add up to four expansion bays that include 90 to 130 slots apiece. The strategy is to compete with Advanced Digital Information Corp. (Nasdaq: ADIC), Overland Storage Inc. (Nasdaq: OVRL), and Quantum Corp.

The announcement of the SL500 has been eagerly anticipated. It follows the StreamLine8500, which StorageTek announced last October and started shipping this quarter. The lag time didn't hurt StorageTek much in the higher-end market, where its main competitor is only IBM. But in the midrange market, where it has more competition, many observers say the market's been waiting for the product.

At least one storage analyst thinks the SL500 is well positioned to boost StorageTek's prospects in that market.

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