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Backup On a Shoestring

Backup on the cheap.

While big businesses drop millions of dollars on their backup infrastructure, lucky small business IT managers are allotted a couple thousand dollars.

Exabyte, which makes VXA-2 tape technology, is hoping small- and medium-sized businesses will choose to spend their limited funds with them on its new 10-cartridge autoloader, the VXA-2 PacketLoader 1U, which in a 1.75" rackmount form factor can hold up to 1.6TBs and is priced under $2,500.

Compare that to a six-slot, 864GB 2U DDS autoloader from Certance (formerly Seagate Removable Storage) that retails on its Web site for $4,199.

Exabyte's new PacketLoader is the culmination of a lot of thinking about how the market is shaping up, says Kelly Beavers, Exabyte vice president of marketing. On the one hand, data is growing at 20% to 50% per year. On the other, the price of entry-level servers continues to drop. According to Beavers, next year, a majority of servers will cost under $10,000. These factors both point to the need for denser, cheaper tape automation products.

The PacketLoader also includes higher-end features like a barcode reader and a remote management option over Ethernet.

But the market for low-end autoloaders isn't exactly burning up. According to Robert Abraham, president of Freeman Reports, an analyst firm that tracks the tape industry, the total market for AIT-2, DLT, DDS and Travan autoloaders was fewer than $200 million in 2003, with about 70,000 units shipped.

Abraham believes that the low-end market will probably see more products such as Certance's new CP 3100, a disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T) product that starts at $1,499. Configured as a 5.25" half-height internal device, or as a standalone or rackmount unit, the CP 3100 incorporates disk, a DAT 72 or DDS-4 tape drive and backup software.

But disk-based backup is unlikely to completely overtake low-end tape automation, Abraham says. "The entry-level market is very price sensitive," and as such, "the likelihood of heavy disk penetration is slim."

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