LTO4 is steadily arriving on the market and the supertape competition is over. LTO4 is the winner and DLT-S, the only viable competitor left, is going to retire from the field, hors du combat so to speak.

- Dell has introduced its LTO4 product.
- Imation has announced LTO4 media
- IBM has announced a rounded set of LTO4 products.
- Spectra Logic has announced its support for LTO-4, including LTO-4 drive-based encryption, in its T50, T120 and T950 libraries.

All other LTO-using tape automation vendors, such as Overland Storage, will follow suit.

So far mainframe tape has remained inviolate to 'open systems' tape, a matter for which IBM and Sun are devoutly thankful. With tape actually wearing out through contact with the read/write heads it may well be that the different usage patterns of tape in the mainframe area will prevent LTO making inroads.

So it appears that we are facing stability in the mid-range and mainframe tape areas, but not in the low-end yet. Lots of old formats are falling away or are facing decline as LTO takes over in the mid-range and disk-to-disk (D2D) backup becomes a stronger and stronger factor in the low-end. But Sony is not about to give up on AIT and HP has not announced the death of DAT 160. The game is not over in the low end of the tape market. Give it another year though, and I think it may well be. D2D will be the big winner and the low-end tape vendors will have to find survivable niches or face losing their customer bases steadily over time.