Sony Unveils SMB Tape Drive Lineup

Small businesses and home offices do not escape the need to procure reliable data backup and protection. Their unique requirements necessitate a storage system that’s affordable and easy to use — ideally featuring plug-and-play connectivity while providing enough storage capacity to handle the data load.

This is why Sony Electronics extended its StorStation lineup to include low-end tape drives designed for small businesses. Available in internal and external models, Sony is providing small businesses with trouble-free data backup and restoration solutions.

Sony first introduced its Advanced Intelligent Tape (AIT) products in 1996. Enterprise-tested, Sony’s AIT format exceeds the performance and capacity of most 8mm 3.5-inch tape cartridges because it has a unique built-in flash memory system that accelerates data transfers. AIT technology also achieves a data compression rate of 2.6-to-1 &#151 the industry average is about 2-to-1.

On the Outside
Sony leveraged its 8mm expertise to develop its new external tape drive, the AITe90-UL. It comes with universal serial bus (USB) and FireWire connectors, which enables plug-and-play connectivity for most PCs and Macintosh computers.

The external tape drive has a compact form-factor that features a compressed storage capacity of up to 91 GB, along with a native data transfer rate of up to 4MB per second. Since most new PCs come with 20GB to 30GB of capacity, the AITe90-UL is a particularly cost-effective backup solution for small businesses at $889. A single tape drive can easily be shared among different notebooks, desktop PCs, Mac computers, servers or workstations as needed.

The AITe90-UL includes a complimentary copy of 1Vision Software’s 1Safe backup program for Windows. 1Safe is an advanced data-protection system that combines file management and backup systems into one user-friendly application. It also provides automated scheduling, drag-and-drop data transfers, and rollback data restoration features.

In order to support a transition from digital data storage systems (DDS) to Sony’s AIT format, all of the new StorStation tape drives are shipping with a free copy of NovaStor’s TapeCopy software. This tape conversion and duplication program provides an easy way for DDS users to upgrade to Sony’s StorStation AIT lineup — at least for Windows users.

Mac-based software support is not included at this time. But Michael Nixon, senior marketing manager for Sony Tape Storage Solutions, said a key reseller would likely bundle the new tape drives with something like Dantz Retrospect Backup software for Macintosh users.

On the Inside
New internal tape drive models from Sony include the AITi90-A/S and AITi130-A/S, designed with advanced technology attachment packet interface (ATAPI) connections, eliminating the need for small computer system interface (SCSI) card installations. As with the external model, both internal tape drives come with a free copy of NocaStor’s TapeCopy software.

Designed specifically for small and midsize businesses, the AITi130-A/S features a compressed capacity of up to 130 GB and a native data transfer rate of up to 6MB per second. The AITi90-A/S features a compressed storage capacity of up to 91 GB and a native data transfer rate of up to 4MB per second.

The internal AITi90-A/S and AITi130-A/S models are available today for an estimated selling price of $779 and $1,149, respectively.

AIT1 and AIT2 tapes sell for about $40 to $57 per cartridge, depending on the storage capacity. These tapes feature a 30-year shelf life and can handle 30,000 rewrites — which roughly equates to being able to process a Sunday through Saturday backup regimen for a workstation or server for nearly 10 years.

Compared with CD or DVD backup systems, Nixon said Sony’s small business tape solutions are far more practical.

“If a small business is only backing a file or two, then CD or DVD backup systems might do the trick,” Nixon said. “But even small design houses need to store big files and this makes other systems nowhere near as practical as our AIT solution. The larger the scale of data storage required, the more attractive the AIT lineup is to small businesses.”

Data At Risk
Industry analysts estimate that only eight percent of small businesses currently have backup and recovery systems in place. To Nixon, this means that right now 92 percent of all small business data is at risk.

“AIT was introduced six years ago and it’s a growing format because it delivers high capacity, reliability, and is twice as fast as competing tape backup methods,” Nixon said. “Above all, our advanced intelligent tape system makes backup and restoration a practical solution for small businesses.”

Whether your small business needs to store archives from mobile computers, desktop PCs and workstations, or find a tape backup solution for small servers, Sony’s StorStation AIT lineup provides a fast, simple, and reliable data restoration solution.

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