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Dell upgrades entry-level tape library

Kevin Komiega

Dell Computer Corp., has sharpened its tape library product line by becoming the second major vendor to add Benchmark Storage Innovations Inc.'s latest blade autoloader to its product line.

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Austin, Texas-based Dell is after entry-level and midrange customers concerned with enhancing backups and saving space in crowded data centers. The PowerVault 122T, is Dell's version of Benchmark's ValuSmart 640 blade autoloader, which is designed to fit in a 2U (3.5-inch) rack space.

Hewlett-Packard Co., added the ValuSmart 640 to its line of tape autoloaders in December.

The PowerVault 122T contains one ValuSmart Tape 80 drive and holds eight cartridges for a storage capacity of 320G Bytes using DLT IV tape media. Dell also offers the option of using LTO Ultrium, for a maximum of 800G Bytes of capacity. The PowerVault 122T clocks in at a transfer rate of 3M-Bits/sec.

Dell backed the LTO tape format because it hit the streets faster than Super DLT tape. Dell built an LTO customer base while it waited for SDLT to reach availability.

"We currently have LTO in all of our automation products," said Jeff Echols, Dell's product manager for tape automation products. "LTO got out there first."

Echols said Dell will continue to consider Super DLT tape as an option for its future products.

Dell has positioned the 122T as an automated backup system for data on Dell PowerEdge servers or Dell PowerVault network-attached storage (NAS) servers.

Robert Amatruda, research manager for Framingham, Mass.-based International Data Corp., said the 122T addresses a low-cost, value oriented group of users.

Amatruda added that Dell tape products sell well into small and medium businesses, but that the 122T will likely find its way into the distributed work group environments of large organizations.

"Its 2U rack-optimized form-factor provides great density and fit for customers who have rack space in demand," said Amatruda.

He said Dell could face competition from Quantum Corp.'s SuperLoader product, which, coincidentally, is resold as part of Compaq Computer Corp.'s -- and now Hewlett-Packard's -- StorageWorks product line.

The 122T's predecessor -- the PowerVault 120T -- was a mite larger than the new blade library. The 120T was a 5U, half-rack product with one tape drive and seven cartridges. That represents a difference of more than five inches of rack space and one more cartridge slot.

The 122T is also $1500 cheaper than the bulkier 120T.

The PowerVault 122T is available with prices starting at $4,150.

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