Iomega Launches REV Drive as Tape Alternative

The company is targeting small-business owners and others looking for inexpensive backup solutions that can be stored offsite.

Iomega Corp. on Monday launched its REV drive, which the company hopes will serve as an archival replacement for tape drives.

Iomega, whose removable-storage legacy includes the Jaz and Zip drives, said in November that it would launch its Removable Rigid Disk technology, renamed the REV, early this year. Each disk holds 35GB, or 90GB with data compression turned on.

Each drive will be priced at $379 for an ATAPI model or $399 for one with a USB 2.0 interface. Media will be priced at $49.95 apiece for a four-pack, Iomega executives said.

Iomega is targeting small-business owners and workgroups at larger companies who are looking for inexpensive backup solutions that can be stored offsite. Iomega will introduce a REV autoloader in the third quarter that will help address the needs of larger businesses, Brian Reeves, a product manager for Iomega of San Diego, said in an interview.

"Ease of use and lower total cost of ownership than competing technologies–thats where we think our market is," Reeves said.

IT managers have a range of backup solutions: rewritable optical media, such as DVD-RW or CD-RW; disk-based backup, such as a local or offsite server or RAID array; or the various flavors of tape.

Larger businesses also have the option of disk-to-disk-to-tape solutions, offered by companies such as Breece Hill LLC, which combine a RAID array with a tape autoloader. But only tape, optical media, or some offsite, disk-based backup can keep data stored in a separate location.

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Robert Amatruda, who analyzes backup solutions for IDC of Framingham, Mass., said he sees the REV as a complementary solution to the 1.2 million units sold in the tape market last year.

"I think from that standpoint that there is a play with REV alongside tape," he said. "Its not going to replace tape, but I think theres a segment of the population that wants great performance, great captivity and low cost thats well within the range of tape."

The REV ships with Iomega Automatic Backup Pro, software designed for backing up files. The software also can compress the disk up to a 2.6:1 ratio. Compressing the drive stresses the system CPU, but Reeves said the data rate is slowed only slightly off its maximum data rate of 25.4 MB/s, several times faster than DDS tape. Iomega also attempted to minimize errors by including 64 Kblock ECC (error-correcting code) capabilities.

The drive uses the UDF file format to get around New Technology File System (NTFS) limitations on removable media, although the REV will appear as a drive letter under Windows. Reeves said the drive will work with Windows 98 and above and that Iomega is actively involved with the Linux community for the development of a Linux-friendly UDF specification. Because the UDF format was designed for optical drives, defragmentation is not possible, Reeves said.

The REVs read/write specification is 1 million rewrites, with a mean time between failures (MTBF) rating of 400,000 hours.

The companys next-generation product plans call for drives holding 35GB uncompressed per disk and 90 GB compressed. Since the drive is based on the technology used in 2.5-inch hard drives, Iomegas progress will be tied to the hard-drive industry, Reeves said.

"The media used in the REV is cutting-edge media," Reeves said. "The media used right now has the highest areal densities thats currently out there. We expect to be leading-edge."

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