Exabyte Sizes Upgradable Tape Drive for SMBs

The company's tape drive comes with a choice of storage capacities, allowing users to expand their storage as their needs and budgets grow.

Exabyte has introduced what it says is the first upgradable tape drive.

Aimed at SMBs (small and midsize businesses) that may be short on cash but expecting to grow over time, the VXA-172 Packet Drive starts at a 172GB capacity, which can be upgraded to about double the capacity electronically as storage needs increase.

"We specifically built this drive so its sized and priced for SMBs, allowing them to get into it at an affordable price with a good capacity, but allowing them to upgrade it when they run out of room for their growing data," said Kerry Brock, vice president of marketing at the Boulder, Colo., company.

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To allow upgrading, the VSA-172 tape drive system is offered with two different tape capacities—80GB for the X6 and 172GB for the larger X10. Each drive can effectively double in capacity.

Because the smaller-capacity drive costs less to produce, Exabyte can sell it for less to the user, Brock said.

With an upgradable tape drive, Brock said, small and midsized companies can expect to keep the technology in use for longer, reducing costs and replacement headaches.

"Maybe you got three or four years out of a device like this before, and you might be able to get twice that much now, which makes the investment easier to swallow up front," he said.

Brock also said Exabytes offering is the first drive to compete in terms of both capacity and speed with DDS/DAT (Digital Data Storage/digital audiotape), sold by a variety of storage vendors, including Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Quantum. Brock said that while DDS/DAT allows for 72GB of compressed storage per tape, that capacity isnt nearly enough for todays data-intensive environments.

"Look at the average-sized disk that goes into a laptop or desktop, much less a server, today. 36GB native/72GB compressed is woefully inadequate," he said. In contrast, Exabytes VXA-172 drive can hold as much as 320GB.

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Along with the VXA-172 Packet Drive, Exabyte also has introduced the VXA-172 PacketLoader 1x10, a device with 10 cartridge slots and a robotic mechanism for unattended backups. The VXA-172 PacketLoader 1x10 provides up to 1.7TB of capacity, scalable to 3.2TB.

The VXA-172 Packet Drive is available immediately at $699, and the VXA-172 Packet Loader costs $1,699. Electronic upgrades cost $349 for a drive upgrade and $599 for a PacketLoader upgrade.

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