Exabyte Looks to Future

Exabyte Corp. is leaving behind its operational problems and rebounding into a new era.

With a new entry-level autoloader launched last week and plans for larger-scale tape efficiencies, Exabyte Corp. is leaving behind its operational problems and rebounding into a new era.

In addition to widespread technical support complaints from users beginning last year, the Boulder, Colo., company was delisted from Nasdaq in January. "When I joined the company in June of last year, it was a classic turnaround situation. We were a company that had not made money in four and a half years and burned through basically all its cash," said CEO and President Tom Ward.

Now, Exabyte—among several storage companies founded by former officials of Storage Technology (StorageTek) Corp., where Ward worked—is finding solutions to customers problems and its own as well. That begins with the new VXA-2 PacketLoader 1x10 autoloader, which will ship Nov. 17 for $2,500, officials said. It has a raw compressed capacity of 1.6 terabytes, which is adequate for small businesses, enterprise departments or remote offices. The PacketLoader will ship through resellers, which may bundle it with third-party backup software, officials said.

VXA tapes, Exabytes de facto successor to the older DDS (Digital Data Storage) tapes, natively hold 80GB each, cost less to make and use fewer parts in their drives than DDS, said Kieran Maloney, Exabyte product manager.

The tapes use a packet format instead of writing data in sequence. Future autoloaders could offer four drives holding a total of up to 80 tapes, Maloney said. Along with aggressive pricing, Exabyte next year will focus on its supply chain and mechanical engineering techniques for the higher-end Linear Tape-Open format, too, Maloney said. In addition, next-generation VXA-3 tapes are being developed and will ship by years end, Ward said.

"This is a really solid product from what Ive seen," said analyst Dianne McAdam, of Data Mobility Group LLC, in Nashua, N.H. "I was impressed with the new management team."