Despite declaring its once broad reseller base to be "under distress", storage distributor Digital Tape Solutions (DTS) has no market growth problems and recently added another potentially lucrative brand to its line-up.
After starting three years ago, US-based Ecrix has gained market and venture capital support for its new VXA tape drives and media which DTS will distribute in Australia to a market hungry for something genuinely new.
After revealing sales revenues have grown from less than $2 million in 1995-96 to over $10 million in 1998-99, David Davoren, DTS general manager, said he has seen the company's channel shrink in recent years.
"Our reseller base is under stress from fewer but bigger resellers", Davoren said. "We have seen half of them disappear. You really have to add some value these days if you're going to survive."
Those left are seeing exponential growth in demand as the Internet age and CRM and ERP applications necessitate more reliable, flexible and cost-effective storage of increasingly critical and abundant data, according to DTS.
Kelly Beavers, Ecrix's founding president, was in town last week to help kick off the DTS deal and the company's VXA storage products. He evangelised about the different way his company has approached the market and feels that having Juan Rodriguez, a co-founder of now rival Exabyte, as partner will help it to become accepted.
Analysts have identified the biggest growth in the server market to be emerging in the low end, Beavers said, yet the need for reliability is even greater. As a result, Ecrix has targeted that market whose key buying motivation in storage solutions comes from cost-effectiveness and reliability.
"We worked very hard at reducing cost while retaining reliability," Beavers said, claiming Ecrix is delivering the best backup-per-dollar ratio available today.
This is achieved thanks to its unique discrete packet format of transmitting data which works like the Internet and allows for more reliable reading and writing. Also, the scanning process in reading doesn't require "back hitching" to catch missed packets. This has further reduced manufacturing costs at the same time as improving reliability.
Ecrix drives - manufactured by AIWA - are available now from DTS as an internal or external unit with ex-tax RRPs of approximately $1800 and $2300 respectively. Patent-protected VXA tape cartridges are available in 66GB and 24GB capacities with prices not yet determined but estimated to be at $150 and $70 respectively.
Victor Koshka, DTS's channel sales manager, said the most attractive features of the Ecrix technology will be the price versus performance equation.
"The price-to-performance point of the drives beats everything in its class," Koshka said, while also promising that there is good margin on the hardware for resellers to boot.