Both Exabyte and Quantum are set to detail new tape offerings.

When it was announced two years ago that DDS-4 (Digital Data Storage 4) tape technology would no longer be advanced, Exabyte pounced on the opportunity to fill the future void with its packet-based tape technology.

This week the company continued its ascent with the introduction of the VXA-2 PacketLoader. The PacketLoader, the first Autoloader product from Exabyte that uses the new VXA-2 technology, is a 1U tape library complete with 10 80GB VXA-2 tapes and a built-in bar code reader that makes it possible to keep track of what data is stored on a tape and to provide faster data retrieval.

According to Tom Ward, president and CEO of Exabyte, PacketLoader was designed with input from Dell and IBM, each of which has numerous SMB (small to midsize business) customers with 50 to 500 users.

"Dell and IBM told us customers want a library that is easy to use and inexpensive," Ward said.

By the end of 2004, Exabyte intends to make available VXA-3 tapes that can be installed in place of the existing VXA-2 tapes found in the PacketLoader.

Quantum believes it has again raised the bar in the midrange market with the SDLT 600 drive that also will be introduced this week.

With 300GB of capacity, it is the third generation of SDLT drive from Quantum. Its capacity, however, is not what excites Steve Berens, senior director of product marketing and strategy at Quantum.

"The SDLT 600 drive also comes with DLTSage, which is built into the drive and can predict, prevent, and notify administrators of issues with the individual drives," Berens said. "Our storage systems division is already using the new drive in the P-series. We believe we are a year ahead of our LTO and SAIT competitors."