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Tandberg releases LTO-6 HH external tape drive

John Hilliard

Tandberg Data announced recently that its new LTO-6 HH external drive is aimed at small- and medium-sized businesses for backup. The LTO-6 HH is capable of

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backing up 6.25 TB of compressed data on a single cartridge with throughput of up to 1.4 TB per hour, according to the company.

The Linear Tape Open (LTO)-6 HH (Half Height) is equipped with either a 6 Gbps Serial-Attached SCSI (SAS) or 8 Gbps Fibre Channel (FC) interface, the company said. The drive can be connected to Apple computers equipped with Thunderbolt interfaces using a FC-to-Thunderbolt bridge, the company said.

Ben Woo, founder of the New York City-based analyst firm Neuralytix, said a small- and medium-sized business (SMB)-focused tape drive is a good direction for the tape market, even though he said the pricing is "a little high" for the media and the drive itself.

Tandberg said pricing for its new drive is $3,499, with pricing for LTO-6 cartridges set at $99. "SMBs need to consider more than cloud as a backup and archive medium," Woo said. "Tape is a logical alternative."

Aside from LTO-6 support, the drive is also write-compatible with LTO-5 and read-compatible with LTO-4 and LTO-5, Tandberg said.

The LTO-6 HH also supports LTFS, WORM and AES 256-bit encryption, according to the company, and comes with Symantec's Backup Exec Quick Start software, along with programs for tape management and internal diagnostics, the company said.

Tape faces stiff competition in the market to keep data safe, particularly in the growing cloud backup/storage field. In TechTarget's fall 2012 Purchasing Intentions survey, 39% of respondents said they planned to decrease their use of backup tape drives -- up from 31% in March 2010. By comparison, the number of respondents that said they'd increase backup tape drive use fell from 26% in March 2010 to 13% last fall.

The LTO format accounted for more than 91% of revenues from tape cartridge sales last year, totaling about $608.9 million, according to recently published data from the Santa Clara Consulting Group. The firm has also reported that overall tape revenues have fallen, although Woo has argued that such drops also reflect increased tape capacity and other improvements in the technology.

Woo said the only thing holding back tape was what he called the "physical element" -- the needed efforts to change tapes, cycle them and conduct other procedures. He said tape could offer a useful and cheaper option than cloud backup if users were more familiar with it.

"That doesn't necessarily mean going to a robot [to manage tape], but it does mean going back to good best practices," Woo said. "Our coffee doesn't go down our throats automatically, so we need to go buy or make coffee. Tape is the same thing … if it is part of someone's daily tasks -- at the speeds and capacities that LTO-6 offers -- it is a very attractive and a much lower-cost alternative to cloud."


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