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Tandberg Joins DAT Club - 15 Years Late

I received a press release from Tandberg Data this week announcing their entrance into to the DAT market with DAT72 and DAT160 drives. While it's not cricket to kick a guy when he's down, I have to say this is a bad move folks. Tandberg, your SMB tape sales aren't falling off because you're selling the wrong tape format, it's because you're selling tape to SMBs!  
Tandberg has been selling the wrong formats. Convincing VARS to sell proprietary tape formats like Sony's AIT and Tandberg's SLT or VXA is a lost cause, but then again so is selling DAT.

Now don't get me wrong I'm not a member of the Tape Sucks club. Tape has its place. After all, even with all the advancements in data reduction and disk backup nothing beats the cost or energy consumption of tape on the shelf. While disk to disk backup has vastly reduced sheer volume, enterprises are still buying tape libraries. Somehow Spectra-Logic has figured out how to make money selling them even in today's economy.

However, after years of dealing with SMB owners, office managers and receptionists mishandling tapes, I've come to the conclusion that tape drives should only be used by trained professionals. They're just not set it and forget it type products. Tapes have to be changed, heads cleaned and most importantly backup software logs need to be checked for errors.  

I've never seen an organization that didn't have at least one IT person handle backups properly when a full backup didn't fit on a single piece of media. They stick the Friday tape in and go home, then don't see the message saying "insert tape 2," proceeding to stick the tape for the Monday incremental in on Monday. Backup software then freaks out, and voila, no backups.

Tandberg themselves have a better SMB backup solution in RDX. While RDX cartridges, which contain 2.5" hard drives, cost more than tapes, the RDX docks are much cheaper than DAT drives. Using 80GB RDX carts vs. DAT 160 (80GB native), total cost for drive/dock and media is the same for the 10 units typical for SMBs.

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