Tape Isn't Dead, Overland Says With New Family of Tape Libraries

Upgraded mid-range automated tape libraries are aimed at a market that's expected to generate more than $1B in sales this year

February 10, 2009

3 Min Read
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For years, people have said "tape is dead," as the price of disk storage declined and more enterprises embraced disk-based backup and archiving systems. Yet, tape still provides high capacity at a low price, is portable, and uses less power and generates less heat than disk systems. Those are some of the reasons the mid-range tape automation market will generate more than $1 billion in sales this year, and shipped more than 100,000 units last year, according to IDC .

That means tape remains a healthy market for companies like Overland Storage, which today introduced a new generation of automated tape libraries. The NEO 2000E scales from 30 to 240 tape cartridges, and the NEO 4000E scales from 60 to 240 per module, which can be stacked and connected for greater capacity. The systems also include iSCSI, Fibre Channel, and SAS connectivity, through the use of virtual interface cards, and customers will be able to mix drive types in a single system. Prices start at $12,333.

Lots of enterprises still use tape, but its role has changed, acknowledged Peri Grover, the company's director of marketing. Most now back up to disk and then archive data off to tape for long-term storage, which is why Overland added disk and virtual tape libraries to its product portfolio over the past several years. "Now, it is all about finding the right combination of disk and tape to handle a company's needs," she said in an interview.

Overland added a number of new features to the libraries, including software-based partitioning to make it easier to allocate the cost of the library over multiple applications, improved mailslot functions that can handle up to 30 cartridges at a time, enhanced management and monitoring, and support for LTO half-height tape drive technologies.

Overall, tape is a market in decline. Yet, the mid-range tape automation market is robust and "a lot of tape cartridges are still being bought. Enterprises are using tape automation systems as a shared resource among a rack of servers or virtualized servers," Robert Amatruda, research director at IDC, said in an interview. "Customers still need to migrate data off their primary systems for archiving and compliance and there is nothing cheaper than tape."Overland has been struggling for the past couple of years but has been doing a good job of transforming itself into an end-to-end data protection company, Amatruda said. Last June, Overland bought Adaptec's Snap Server business in an attempt to gain a foothold in the SMB NAS market. The Snap Server deal was valued at just $3.6 million. The company also named board member Eric Kelly as its new chief executive officer. Kelly previously was president of Silicon Valley Management Partners Inc., a management consulting firm, and had served as president of Maxtor's systems business. He also held positions at Dell, Diamond Multimedia, Conner Peripherals, and IBM.

"They also raised some capital in a tough market, so it seems to be a company that's on the move," Amatruda said. "They are providing a broader product set than just tape and disk and their new CEO seems to have a plan in place. Increasing the capacity in the NEO architecture and embedding increased functionality inside those boxes is good for the customer."

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