Dell Inks Removable Storage Deal With Tandberg


Both vendors declined to comment on the exact nature of the of the technology that Dell plans to OEM from Tandberg.

Tandberg and other vendors have been marketing a new type of removable hard drive that can be used to replace tape drives and cartridges. The drives can sit in a magazine and be mechanically picked and plugged into a server or storage device in the same fashion as a tape cartridge.

In the filing, Tandberg officials stated that the company agreed to supply Dell with "a new low cost removable storage drive and media" in a deal that could be worth $50 million to $60 million over the three-year length of the contract. The statement also said that Dell made no purchase commitments and that deliveries would start after successful qualification by Dell.

A Dell spokesperson said that the company would not comment on the report. A Tandberg spokesperson also would not comment, other than to say that publicly listed Norwegian companies are required to report such deals. Tandberg is headquartered in Oslo, Norway, and has its U.S. headquarters in Poway, Calif.

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Last month, Tandberg officials signed a licensing agreement with Boulder, Colo.-based ProStor Systems to manufacturer, market, distribute and support that company's new RDX removable disk cartridges. Tandberg said at the time it will offer the RDX drives to OEM customers and channel partners. The RDX cartridges are basically 2.5-inch hard mobile drives ranging in size from 40 Gbytes to 400 Gbytes.

ProStor on Wednesday said it secured $12.2 million in Series B funding, bringing the total investment in the company to $18.4 million.

A couple of vendors have already introduced removable hard drives. San Diego-based Iomega in March introduced an autoloader that automates the use of up to eight of its REV removable disk cartridges. Each REV disk has a native capacity of 35 Gbytes, or up to 70 Gbytes compressed, for a total capacity of up to 560 Gbytes.

That same month also saw Milpitas, Calif.-based Quantum introduce its GoVault line of removable hard drives. The GoVault Drive is a Seagate 2.5-inch mobile hard drive in a ruggedized cartridge. They plug into a docking station that fits in a 3.5-inch or 5.25-inch server bay. The drives are currently available in 40-Gbyte, 80-Gbyte, and 120-Gbyte capacities, with future capacity options increasing with new mobile hard drive releases.

A move by Dell to embrace removable hard drives would be the second validation of the technology after IBM, which last week said it signed an agreement to OEM the GoVault drives from Quantum.

Greg Knieriemen, vice president of marketing at Chi, a Cleveland-based solution provider which counts Tandberg as one of its vendors, called Tandberg a great channel partner.

Knieriemen said that the Tandberg OEM relationship with Dell now brings in the question of how it might impact the OEM deal supposedly signed between Dell and another channel-friendly storage vendor, San Diego-based Overland Storage. Published reports and channel sources said Dell is expected to OEM Overland's new entry-level OEM tape autoloader, code-named "Dreadnaught."

The Tandberg-Dell deal also brings up the question of channel conflict, Knieriemen said. "To the channel, any relationship with Dell, whether it's Overland or Tandberg, causes channel conflicts for those vendors' own channel partners," he said.