New standard for tape storage

New standard for tape storage

IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Seagate Technology recently announced plans to develop an open tape storage format to be used by multiple vendors. The intent is to simplify the spread of network-attached storage, where users can hook tape systems directly to a corporate network instead of tying the system to a specific server platform.

The specification for the format is still in development, with technical details expected early next year.

The three companies represent a big part of the tape storage market, but the leader in that market wasn't part of the announcement - that belongs to Quantum, which makes digital linear tape (DLT) products.

Estimated 1997 tape storage worldwide revenue will be $US2.6 billion, according to IDC. Of that amount, Quantum's market share is 21 per cent, or $US659 million; Hewlett- Packard is second, at 20 per cent, or $US620 million; Seagate is third at 11 per cent, or $US350 million; and IBM is eighth at 3 per cent, or $US103 million.

Fara Yale, an analyst at Dataquest, also saw the announcement as an effort to stall DLT, but she didn't think it would work. "Based on the information that's known at this point, it's not enough to make any OEM hold off on a decision."

Products based on the standard are anywhere from 12 to 18 months away, the companies said.

Yale said that although it was commendable the companies were working on a standard, "unfortunately there were more questions left open than answered about what they have announced."

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