Tandberg Becomes Fourth LTO Drive Maker, Acquires U.S. Partner

But the Oslo, Norway-based vendor first has to complete the acquisition of its U.S.-based partner, Poway, Calif.-based InoStor. Tandberg acquired about 50 percent of InoStor when InoStor merged with LAND-5 about three years ago, said Ken Cruden, CEO of InoStor.

While InoStor was licensed to handle Tandberg's tape drive business in the Americas, the company basically focused on servicing existing customers, Cruden said. The company also continued to develop its RAIDn technology, which allows arrays to be built with multiple redundant disks in order to ensure operation in case one or more disk fails, he said.

Even so, the U.S. accounts for around 12 percent to 15 percent of Tandberg's tape and disk automation business, said Cruden. At the same time, Tandberg reevaluated its U.S. business in light of the potential licensing revenue opportunity from InoStor and its imminent rollout of its first LTO tape drives, and decided to acquire the remaining shares of privately-held InoStor, he said. Terms of the acquisition were not released.

Tandberg this week finalized an agreement with the LTO consortium to build tape drives based on LTO technology. The consortium was founded in 1998 by Hewlett-Packard, Seagate and IBM. Quantum last year joined the organization by acquiring Certance, which was spun off from Seagate.

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Tandberg also produces DLT and SDLT tape drives under license from Quantum.

The first fruits of Tandberg's new LTO relationship will be the 420LTO tape drive. It is a half-height drive which takes up about the same space as a DVD-ROM drive, and is full read-compatible with LTO-1 tape cartridges, said Cruden.

While the new drive is offers throughput of only 24 Mbytes per second vs. the typical 36 or so Mbytes per second of other LTO-2 drives, its small size combined with a list price starting at $2,450 make it ideal for building into servers, he said. "Now it makes high-tech, high-performance tape technology very practical to go into servers and workstations," he said.

The new half-height LTO-2 drive is expected to be available starting March 14. Later this month, Tandberg will also roll out a full-height LTO-3 tape drive, followed about 18 months later with a half-height LTO-3 drive, Cruden said.

In April, Tandberg also plans to use its half-height LTO-2 drive to build what Cruden described a one of the highest-density tape automation solutions available. It is a 1U tape autoloader with one drive and room for up to eight LTO-2 cartridges, giving it a maximum compressed capacity of 3.2 Tbytes, he said.