Overland Maybe Aims At High End With New NEO Tape Library

The NEO 8000, officially released last week, was demonstrated for the first time to solution providers at the company's annual partner summit, held on a cruise ship near Miami Sept. 6 and 7.

Solution providers and executives at the San Diego-based company said they expect the NEO 8000 to eat into the market now occupied by Quantum/ATL, ADIC, and StorageTek.

The NEO 8000, which is expected to ship in volume in December, will be able to scale from two tape drives an 100 cartridges to up to 20 tape and 500 cartridges, said Jim Jenkins, an Overland sales manager. In the near future, expansion modules will enable the NEO 8000 to scale to up to 48 drives and 2,000 cartridges, he said.

The library will compete against Quantum/ATL's P-series, ADIC's Scalar and StorageTek's L-series of libraries, said Jenkins. Many solution providers believe the product will compete for enterprise business, even though it is billed as a midmarket solution.

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Brad Wenzel, president and CEO of Wenzel Data, a Stillwater, Minn.-based solution provider, said that Overland, with its history of being more cost-effective than other vendors, could dominate the enterprise. "How many people need 2,000 by 400-Gbyte [tapes]?" Wenzel said. "That's enterprise, baby."

Overland in the past focused on distributed storage, but now can move into the enterprise, said John Zammett, president of HorizonTek, a Huntington, N.Y.-based solution provider. "They can go after the competition in a real way," he said.

But Overland executives hesitated to call the NEO 8000 an enterprise-class library. Few used the word "enterprise" when describing it during their presentations to solution providers.

Christopher Calisi, president and CEO of Overland, said companies like StorageTek compete at the enterprise level and own that space, but Overland remains committed to the midrange space. "The NEO 8000 is not enterprise," Calisi said. "It is the high end of the midrange. Five-hundred cartridges is at that level."

One solution provider, who asked to not be identified, said it is natural that Overland is hesitating to call the NEO 8000 an enterprise solution. "Overland has done well by quietly sneaking up on the competition and staying under StorageTek's radar," the solution provider said.

However, John Cloyd, vice president and general manager of Overland's Storage Management Business Unit, said it will be difficult to not call the NEO 8000 an enterprise-class product.

"I would classify 2,000 slots as enterprise," he said. "I don't see how you can have 2,000 slots and not call it enterprise."