More than Just Bragging Rights at Stake
The ongoing competition to create tape solutions capable of huge capacities isn't just for bragging rights, but with all the "bragging" going on, the real question is how are these tape drive manufacturers going to remain competitive and succeed in this evolving market?
Sony's Woelbern says that one of the ways to remain competitive and succeed in this market is vertical integration. "Sony's competitive edge is its technology capability and internal manufacturing capability," he says. "This, together with a diverse tape storage product line, from DDS to AIT and now SAIT, provides Sony with a unique competitive advantage," he continues.
Quantum's Berens, on the other hand, says that one of the ways to remain competitive in this ever-evolving market is by focusing on customers' needs. And, in his opinion, the ultimate success factor is understanding how customers use and implement data protection. "Technology for technology's sake is problematic. We have directed our efforts toward delivering simple, reliable, and effective answers for customers' data protection needs," says Berens.
There are many factors driving the need for more storage capacity, and according to some industry experts, one of the primary factors is the digitization craze that's sweeping the nation and spanning multiple industries. "Whether it's CNN or a hospital, files and records are losing their value in analog and hard-copy form, and the future rests with digital capabilities," says Woelbern. In addition, Woelbern believes that enterprises are seeing their data warehouses rapidly expanding and that this mission-critical data needs to be securely backed up on a regular basis.
According to International Data Corporation (IDC), the compounded annual growth rate for data storage has exceeded 79 percent, and e-business and other enterprise technology trends such as ERP, CRM, and data warehousing are doubling the amount of corporate data every six months. In addition, vertical and multimedia applications that demand larger storage capacities -- such as broadcast, production and post-production digital content management, medical and financial record retention, video storage, and surveillance -- are expanding data storage needs. Woelbern says he foresees SAIT being effectively utilized in many different application areas.
What's in Store for the Future?
It looks as though the tape capacity wars are going to continue as vendors continually look for better ways to solve their increased capacity needs, but as with anything else, the future holds many challenges for tape storage manufacturers.
Woelbern says that one of those future challenges is to continue to promote tape as the most cost-effective backup and archival medium and thereby silence the tape vs. disk debate. He also notes that on the technology front, linear formats such as LTO and SDLT will face significant challenges in tape drive design and media formulation to implement a roadmap that provides much more capacity than 1TB per cartridge.
Berens says that the major challenge for all tape storage manufacturers in the years ahead will be to remain committed, focused, and dedicated to value delivery. "Our market has experienced more and more consolidation," says Berens, "and we will continue to see that simplification will be the outcome of the consolidation."