Qualstar Unveils Enterprise Tape Library For The Channel

The Simi Valley, Calif.-based storage vendor, one of the industry's few independent tape library vendors after Sun's acquisition of StorageTek and Quantum's acquisition of ADIC, has gone through a rough time in the past year or two, said Bob Covey, vice president of marketing.

That rough period was due to the delay of the new XLS Enterprise Tape Library System as well as a slow adoption of the LTO tape format, which is now the best-selling tape format, Covey said.

"We bet very heavily on the AIT and SAIT formats, and didn't shift fast enough to LTO," he said. "AIT and SAIT are facing flat markets."

Rather than being late, the new library is out just in time, said Dan Carson, vice president of marketing and business development at Open Systems Solutions, a Willow Grove, Penn.-based provider of libraries from both Qualstar and Sun/StorageTek.

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The XLS is going after the market currently served by Sun's StorageTek L500, L700, and L1400, said Carson. However, this is a growing part of the market. "The XLS is not late," he said. "We're still seeing opportunities."

Carson said that Qualstar has done a good job designing and engineering the XLS, and is offering it at a price point significantly less than similar libraries from StorageTek.

And except for a few OEM deals, Qualstar, unlike StorageTek, sells exclusively through the channel, Carson said. "We've been selling the StorageTek libraries to customers looking for 400 or more tape slots, and have been working with Qualstar for libraries under that level," he said. "But there are front-end incentives from Qualstar to the channel in the higher-end space."

The XLS starts at an entry level of 355 tape cartridges, and goes up to 665 cartridges in the initial base Library Resource Module (LRM), said Covey. For further expandability, customers can add additional LRMs, which increase the number of drives and slots available, or Media Expansion Modules, which expand the number of slots, for a maximum of up to 2,800 tape cartridges.

The XLS uses a rotary carousel design that fits 1,075 cartridges in a space of less than 9 square feet, Covey said. The robotic arm can access up to 2,800 tapes while moving less than 21 inches horizontally, he said. The library has a small built-in UPS that offers enough emergency power to put tapes back into their slots so that a power outage does not damage or jam the cartridges, he said.

The XLS is expected to be available for customer delivery in late September using LTO-3 technology. An LTO-4 version should be ready by the time the LTO-4 tape format is available, which Covey said should be in the first quarter of 2007.