Exabyte Aims Low With LTO

Pricing, capacity options expected to be key considerations for SMBs

April 11, 2006

3 Min Read
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Exabyte is trying to prove that tape is not only alive and well but LTO libraries could be moving soon to a desktop near you.

Exabyte today unveiled its Magnum 224 LTO tape library, which it bills as the first LTO tape library for SMBs and departments. Its competition comes from autoloaders from Quantum and Overland Storage. The Magnum 224 is available today with LTO-2 drives; LTO-3 drives will be available next month.

Although Exabyte is correct in its characterization, the difference between library and autoloader isn't always that great. Storage vendors and research firms like IDC define libraries as being able to upgrade to more than one drive and hold more than 21 cartridges. Exabyte's Magnum 224 fits that bill as an LTO-2 library, because LTO-2 is available as a half-height drive and you can add a second drive. But because LTO-3 is only available as a full-height drive, the Magnum 224 only holds one drive, which makes it an autoloader.

Exabyte marketing VP Kerry Brock says he expects LTO-3 in half-height configurations by the end of the year, which will allow the Magnum 224 to hold two LTO-3 drives.

The 2u Magnum 224 scales from 4.8 Tbytes for LTO-2 with one 12-cartridge magazine to 19.2 Tbytes for a 24-cartridge LTO-3 setup. The LTO-2 configuration starts at $4,600, while pricing for LTO-3 begins at $6,000. That puts it in the same price vicinity as competing LTO autoloaders such as the Quantum SuperLoader 3 and Overland LoaderXpress. Exabyte's advantage is it lets you add a second drive, but that second drive costs another $2,300.Hitting the right price point could be the key to getting SMBs to buy LTO drives. While LTO drives outsell other formats by a large margin now, they are less popular with price-conscious buyers.

"SMBs are buying tape, but a single drive attached to a single server and DDS/DAT formats have been prevalent," IDC analyst Robert Amatruda says. "Usually a customer purchases a server and gets a tape drive with it. The price for LTO has been coming down, but it's still considered a pricey option."

Oliver Fischer-Samano, IT director for Baerlocher USA, says price was a key issue when he was charged with upgrading from direct attached storage to networked storage and from DAT to LTO a year ago. Fischer-Samano's entire budget was $20,000 to upgrade the German-based manufacturing firm's Ohio sites in Cincinnati and Dover, and that included either NAS and SAN.

"We quickly realized that everything we looked at was way over our budget and did not solve all of our issues," he says.

He eventually found what he needed in the form of a 1.6-Tbyte unified NAS-SAN Adaptec Snap system, an Exabyte Magnum 1.7 LTO autoloader, and 50 LTO tapes. The total bill came to $18,930, with more than one third of his budget going for the autoloader and service.Fischer-Samano says price and a desire to switch from DLT were keys to his decision.

"We used DLT before and were very unsatisfied, so DLT was not an option," he says. "I liked the price for the capacity and Exabyte's reputation. We paid about $4,500 for the Exabyte autoloader and about $2,000 for a three-year service contract with advanced replacement. I think the price for the autoloader is fair and fits in an SMB market."

He's less upbeat about the service pricing, calling it "a little stiff."

Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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