Exabyte Unveils Rack Autoloader For SMBs

The PacketLoader is built around Exabyte's VXA-2 tape drive and comes complete with a 10-slot tape carousel. Each tape can hold up to 160 Gbytes of data in compressed mode, for a total of 1.6 Tbytes, which allows rolling backups to be set up for two weeks at a time, said Kieran Maloney, general manager of the VXA business at Exabyte, Boulder, Colo.

The PacketLoader, which includes an internal bar-code reader, costs $2,499--less than the cost of an SDLT tape drive, said Maloney, adding that the bar-code reader is a $500 add-on option with most competitors' products.

"It's going to make an amazing impact in the K--12 and higher education markets, said Josh Kermisch, sales manager at Mainline Computer Products, a Powell, Ohio-based solution provider.

Because VXA-2 drives run relatively slow--and Exabyte's PacketLoader is no exception--they aren't targeted at enterprises that have the budget for LTO products or similar tape technologies, Kermisch said. "The appeal here is the price point," he said.

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A good part of Mainline's business comes from educational institutions in Ohio where the main focus is on getting tape drives at the lowest possible price, Kermisch said. "With this autoloader's price point, I don't know anyone else who can meet it," he said.

For the small-business space, which makes up most of Mainline's business, such a compact autoloader makes sense, Kermisch said. With 10 cartridges in its rack, Exabyte's PacketLoader allows a small business to set up a one- or two-week tape rotation scheme that's reliable and low-cost, he said.

The tape drive is mounted in the rear of the PacketLoader for easy servicing and field upgrading to Exabyte's VXA-3 tape drives, which will offer double the capacity when they become available late next year, Maloney said.

A remote management option, which allows remote configuration and monitoring of the autoloader and the ability to e-mail alerts to solution providers or network administrators, is available for an additional $300.

Exabyte is focused on the channel and does not sell direct, said Kerry Brock, vice president of marketing at the company. OEMs account for less than 40 percent of Exabyte's business, he said.

The company recently enhanced its ExaPartner solution provider program so that it now offers partners a deal registration program, Brock said. Authorized and Premier solution providers also get immediate, up-front discounts when placing orders through an authorized distributor, he said.