ADIC is set to release a product that will allow existing software applications to back up at disk speed, before moves the stored data onto real LTO tapes in the background.

Pathlight VX is a disk-based backup device which emulates one or more LTO tape libraries. "Data movement to tape doesn't require external resources or a server, it is all internal, and it works with the software you have today," said Jonathan Otis, ADIC's senior vice president of technology. "It supports ADIC libraries now and will support others later - we'll add Storagetek support early next year.

With 8TB to 40TB of Serial ATA disk, RAID for reliability, and up to 1TB per hour throughput, Pathlight VX can dramatically shorten the backup window and speed up data restores.

"You can also use it to shift the load, for example to use fewer real tape drives while retaining an automated path to tape," Otis says. "Needs have changed - tape still does what it does well, but disk makes the whole solution better."

"The ATA price point is what's driving the industry at the moment. Customers don't want to dump tape, but they want the advantages of disk and they want it simple. Plus it is really important that it writes a standard format to the tape so it doesn't need our system to restore it."

ADIC sells both SDLT and LTO libraries, but will only do an LTO version of the Pathlight VX. "I don't think there needs to be a DLT version because I can't think of a DLT application that doesn't also write to LTO," Otis says.

"A lot of our DLT sales are workgroup, but in the enterprise more than 70 percent is LTO. If you compare LTO to SDLT alone, LTO is winning hugely, though Quantum of course includes DLT shipments in its figures, so it can claim 50/50."

He adds that the next LTO cycle will be quicker than the move from LTO to LTO2, predicting that LTO3 will appear by the end of 2004, but that LTO4 will take longer. "1TB on a tape is not impossible but it takes a bit more invention," he notes.