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Skydata wraps up tape deal

The Canadian distributor of Sony of Canada Ltd.’s upcoming S-AIT tape system predicts the product will back up a big piece of the enterprise storage market.

“”My guess is Super-AIT will have a significant impact on the marketplace because it is truly reflective of a disruptive technology,”” says

Howard Goldberg, CEO of Skydata Corp., the exclusive Canadian distributor for the S-AIT Petasite library system.

“”In terms of capacity, it leapfrogs competing technologies by two generations or more.””

S-AIT, which goes on the market in June, uses the technology of Sony’s AIT tape system (which uses an 8mm dual-spool cartridge) to squeeze 500 GB of uncompressed data (or 1.3 TB compressed) onto a 1/2-inch single-spool cartridge. However, S-AIT can’t read AIT tapes.

Competition in the 1/2-inch cartridge market includes Quantum Corp.’s SDLT 320 and LTO’s Ultrium Generation 2 systems, whose drives are built into libraries from manufacturers such as Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

S-AIT PetaSite libraries, which include two S-AIT drives, will come in 60-, 108- and 216-cartridge units. With eight libraries chained together the maximum possible storage is one petabyte. Single-cartridge drives will also be available, and solution providers may build their own smaller multiple-cartridge systems.

Canadian pricing hasn’t been set yet, but American pricing for a base S-AIT PetaSite library is US$65,000.

According to Sony of Canada, potential customers include users of the company’s older DTF PetaSite tape libraries, which include hospitals who use them for medical imaging, cable TV companies for storing broadcast video, and financial institutions and government for archiving data.

However, Skydata says it will be fussy when entertaining applications from resellers for the product, looking for those who either are storage experts or are willing to make the commitment in time and energy to do so.

Only a “”relatively small and select group”” will qualify, he says.

“”This is the kind of solution that involves long sales cycles and integration expertise,”” Goldberg cautions.

Skydata’s model is to work with resellers by developing and sharing leads gained through trade shows and phone campaigns, he also said.

In a change for Sony, its Canadian direct DTF PetaSite resellers are being dealt out of the S-AIT PetaSite business. Instead, they’ll have to go through Skydata for product.

Sony chose Skydata to be its Canadian distributor because the company is a storage specialist, said Tim Algate, Sony of Canada’s product manager for storage solutions. “”They bring a solid reseller relationship that can take a product to end users as well as integrate it into a total solution.””

S-AIT “”is a nice evolution”” in performance,”” says Alan Freedman, research manager for infrastructure hardware at IDC Canada. While hard disk storage is increasingly popular, tape still has a place for applications such as disaster recovery and regulation compliance.

The AIT system will continue three more generations of improvement over the next six years, Algate also said.