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What Will Succeed DDS for the Low-end Tape Throne?

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Last year, manufacturers of Digital Data Storage (DDS) tape - a sub-$1,000 drive popular for low-end servers - announced they would discontinue any further development of the 8mm technology.

The announcement sent other low-end tape drive manufacturers scrambling to promote their drives as a replacement.

Tape technologies targeted for DDS replacement include Sony's AIT-1, OnStream's ADR2, Exabyte's VXA-2, as well as Mammoth and Seagate's Travan, says Bob Abraham, president of Freeman Reports, a market research firm that follows tape technology.

Who has the best chances? Right now, it's still too early to tell, Abraham says. Of these, "I doubt there's one who even has 20% market share."

But if you're in the market for a new standalone tape drive for your server, there are a few things you might want to consider, says John Woelbern, Sony director of OEM marketing and sales for tape storage solutions.

For one, does the drive offer the same or better capacity and performance as DDS? Does it have a similar small form factor? Is it economically priced? And does it deliver low-level automation?

Furthermore, Woelbern asks, is the technology backed by a company that isn't shaky financially and can demonstrate a long-term roadmap for the technology?

It will take a couple of years for a successor to the low-end tape market to emerge, and during that time, DDS will continue to sell. "DDS may be a dead end, but it's not dead yet," says Freeman Reports'

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Abraham.

This was first published in September 2002

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