Dell teams with Benchmark

Dell Computer Corp., Round Rock, Texas, has unveiled an OEM agreement with Benchmark Tape Systems Corp., Boulder, Colo., under which Dell will integrate Benchmark's DLT1 tape drive into its PowerVault storage product line. Dell is the first big OEM to choose Benchmark's DLT products, and according to Benchmark, they won't be the last.

"This is a very important announcement for the company and we hope will lead to additional business," said Mike Befeler, vice president of business development for Benchmark. "We are under evaluation by eight other OEM's and we hope this will light a fire under the others. One of the inhibitors of the adoption of DLT over DDS is a step up in price. Eventually, down the road, DDS will phase out. Right now it's questionable whether there will be a DDS-5 format. But there's still an extensive install base for DDS systems and it will be an extended period of time before it goes away," he said.

"Dataquest has frequently stated that winning OEM business is a must for startup companies new to the tape industry," said Fara Yale, chief analyst, Computer Storage Service, GartnerGroup's Dataquest. "A major OEM's stamp of endorsement can boost the credibility of a new tape product or technology in the market and it can lead to substantial increases in volumes."

The Benchmark DLT1 tape drive offers 80G Bytes of compressed capacity and a 6 M-Bits/sec compressed transfer rate, so network storage servers or workstations can be backed up on one single tape cartridge. The DLT1 is read-compatible with the DLT4000 and utilizes DLTtape IV media.

"We're working on broadening the DLT product family," said Befeler. "We represent a good migration up from the DDS space."

Befeler also said that Benchmark's ability to offer a simple migration up to DLT technology for those looking to move out of the DDS space will fall in sync with the eventual adoptions of Storage Area Networks (SANs) by smaller companies.

"Over time Storage Area Networks (SANs) will move down from large, to midrange, down to smaller environments," he said. "The SAN space is moving down and we're doubling our capacity about every 18 months. We think that these circumstances will be prime for us."

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