Tapes drive interest in Sony’s storage

Tapes drive interest in Sony’s storage

Advanced Intelligent Tape (AIT) technology has proved a boon for Sony with the company expecting to more than double sales of the storage drives in Australia this year.

“AIT drive shave been romping out,” Sony’s storage marketing manager, Peter Norman, said.

The company sold about 5000 AIT drives last calendar year – mainly into the government and education market, he said.

That projected sales figure was revised at the start of this calendar year to 7000 and has since been upgraded to 11,000.

“Australia is the third largest consumer of AIT drives,” Norman said.

The top two consumers are Americans and Europeans.

“We are more serious about AIT storage than they are in Japan,” he said.

Sales of AIT products have largely been the AIT-3 format. Sony will showcase its new AIT-4 drives next week at Storage World Australia 2004, held at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.

There AIT-4 drive holds 200GB of native capacity (520GB with 2.6.1 compression) – double that of the preceding AIT-3.

AIT-4 sustained transfer rate is 24Mbps – double that of AIT-3's 12Mbps. Linear Tape Open (LTO), AIT competing format also has a 200GB capacity (400GB compressed) but it has a transfer rate of 30-35Mbps.

Pricing for the new tape drives varies. An internal OEM drive costs $6200, an external $6600. Retail kits cost $6450 and $6600 respectively. Media costs $170 per cartridge.

Norman said this wouldl be compelling for customers, particularly those that may be LTO users – a key target in Sony’s sights.

Despite the arguments by the various storage players as to which tape technology is better, sales of all tape drive technology – AIT (Sony), VXA (Exabyte), DDS/DAT (HP/Certance) LTO (IBM/HP) – are doing quite well in Australia according to IDC figures.

This seems to be the case for John Couvaras, company director of Datastor, a distributor of storage products from vendors such as Exabyte, IBM/Hitachi, Maxtor, Seagate and Sony.

“[Sony’s] AIT is a good product,” he said.

But competition is fierce.

“LTO is backed by IBM and HP and those two names mean a lot in the market,” Couvaras said.

Meanwhile Sony has also released its latest Super AIT drive – the SAIT e1300. The drive is available with SCSI ($19,995) and Fibre Channel ($21,995) interfaces and has a 500GB native capacity on a single cartridge.

A review of the SAIT e1300 will appear in this week’s ARN Storage email.

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