DAT/DDS The Tape Format That Will Not Die - InformationWeek

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7/23/2008
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Howard Marks
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DAT/DDS The Tape Format That Will Not Die

After an absence of five or six years, and two generations, DDS trademark owner Sony is rejoining HP in supporting the seventh generation of DDS/DAT drives, DAT320, targeted at the SMB market. DAT320, like HP's DAT160s, abandons the Digital Auto Tape cartridge, and its 4-mm-wide tape, using 8-mm tape in a two reel cartridge instead.

After an absence of five or six years, and two generations, DDS trademark owner Sony is rejoining HP in supporting the seventh generation of DDS/DAT drives, DAT320, targeted at the SMB market. DAT320, like HP's DAT160s, abandons the Digital Auto Tape cartridge, and its 4-mm-wide tape, using 8-mm tape in a two reel cartridge instead.My biggest problem with DAT320 is that I don't think the SMB customer with one server should be backing up to tape. I've seen too many SMBs fail at making a good backup every day, and getting one off-site occasionally, with a tape drive. They don't change tapes, don't notice when the backup program fails, don't take tapes off-site and, since they're not IT professionals, generally don't understand how backups work and don't care to know till something goes wrong. A combination of a local backup to a USB hard drive and an online backup makes more sense to me for these folks.

The real question to me is, do we need a tape format specifically for low-end use? Even if you disagree with me and think SMBs can handle tapes effectively, why have tape formats specifically for the low end? Why can't SMBs use earlier generations of LTO? I just opened the CDW site to see what the street prices for SMB backup devices really are and right there on the front page are an HP DAT160 drive for $849 and a Tandberg LTO-2 drive for $760. Paying more for a drive that has less capacity (200 native GB/tape vs. 80 for DAT160) and no automation upgrade doesn't make any sense to me. Unlike DAT160 drives which can mount and read DDS-4 tapes, the new DAT320 drives are only backwards compatible with DAT160, so there aren't many organizations that will get any real benefit from backwards compatibility.

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