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DDS Lives as Replacement Fails to Materialize

Last year, the digital data storage (DDS) tape format, a.k.a. DAT, was in decline.

Last year, the digital data storage (DDS) tape format, a.k.a. DAT, was in decline. Sony--along with Seagate Removable Storage Solutions (now called Certance), and HP--was one of three vendors that manufactured DDS, and had announced that it would no longer develop or sell the technology, while Seagate and HP seemed content to let it whither on the vine.

DDS didn't die, though, and HP and Seagate are releasing a fifth generation of DDS, says Mike Lakowicz, Seagate RSS VP of product strategy and business development. Sony appears to be focusing on bringing its AIT-1 technology to small- to medium-sized business.


Recent Funding to Storage Companies

Early spring was marked by a spate of Series B and C funding announcements to companies with shipping products and bona fide customers.
@exe What happened? "Clearly, the business case was there," says Bob Abraham, president of Freeman Reports. So far, no DDS competitors have succeeded in garnering a leadership position in the low-end server drive market. Competition includes Sony's AIT-1, Quantum's DLT-1, now VS80, Onstream's ADR, and Exabyte's VXA.

Why haven't any of these tape technologies succeeded in stepping into DDS' shoes? In a nutshell, they've had "pricing problems," Abraham says, namely, that they weren't priced quite low enough, i.e., below $1,000.

"The DDS market is extremely price sensitive," explains Kelly Beavers, vice president of marketing at Exabyte. "Customers have always had the option of a drive that has better capacity and performance, but costs more. But in this market, the main determiner is that it has to be cheap."

Furthermore, says Seagate's Lakowicz, there are a phenomenal number of DDS drives out there. In 2002 alone, DDS shipped about 1.1 million drives. And with tape, "if you have something that you know works, you're not liable to change it just because."

Seagate's DDS-5 drive, the DAT 72, is slated for early summer, will have native capacity and throughput of 36GB and 3.5MB/s, Lakowicz says, and a price "consistent with DDS-4 technology."

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