Exabyte Unveils Sub-$5,000 LTO2 Tape Autoloader

The new Magnum 1x7 tape autoloader from the Boulder, Colo., tape drive vendor includes a single LTO2 (linear tape open technology) drive and room for seven tape cartridges in a 2U, rack-mount unit, said Tom Ward, president and CEO.

The new autoloader comes a year after the company introduced its VXA-2 PacketLoader, which Ward called the first tape automation product for the masses. "Our overall product strategy is maximum performance for the lowest price," he said.

It's a strategy that works for at least one solution provider.

Steve Hemsworth, president of HemTech Solutions, of Staten Island, N.Y., said the Magnum 1x7 costs just right. "If you look at Dell or Hewlett-Packard, it's priced 7 [percent] to 10 percent below them -- maybe 15 percent below HP."

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While having a tape autoloader with the HP brand might make a difference in an all-HP shop, smaller customers won't care, said Hemsworth. "For an SMB, LTO holds its value," he said. "For SMBs and enterprise branches, Exabyte is a known solution."

Even though many businesses are moving to adopt disk-based backup technology, a big market still exists for tape-based products, Hemsworth said. "A disk-based unit can't be taken off site in case of a fire or damage. For safety, you need to pull tape," he said.

Although the Magnum 1x7 marks the first time an LTO2-based tape autoloader carries a street price less than $5,000, Exabyte has added some enterprise-class features to the device, said Ward. These include a barcode reader to track tape cartridges and an Ethernet port to allow remote management.

Exabyte offers an advanced exchange warranty for the Magnum to allow replacement before a failure occurs. And under certain conditions, the user or solution provider can open the case to remove a stuck cartridge before shipping the autoloader back for repair, he said.

Exabyte has no direct sales for its tape automation products -- working instead through more than 1,200 solution providers, said Ward.

The Magnum 1x7 is expected to ship November 18.