Big Blue to ship RDX removable drives

ProStor scores big - again

That's it - with IBM joining the RDX party, there is now effectively only one business-class removable disk drive technology in town for backup, and that's ProStor.

RDX is a USB-connect dock and removable 160, 320 or 500GB disk drives, that comes with backup software - Backup Exec or Yosemite FileKeeper. You back up to it like tape and then take the disk away for offsite backup, again like tape. But unlike tape, you get disk restore speeds and disk backup speed. The USB interface ensures a blindingly obvious installation, with sustained transfer rates of up to 90GB/hour; not that fast really, not for disk. We could do with USB 3.0, SAS 2 or eSATA.

The drives are mostly manufactured by Tandberg - Imation has manufacturing rights but no known customers - and it makes them for itself, Dell, Fujitsu and Fujitsu Siemens Computers, HP and NEC. With IBM now joining the RDX reselling party that's probably the kiss of effective death for competing business removable disk drive formats, such as Quantum's GoVault, which IBM used to sell.

This year the drives should increase capacity to 750GB and get a SAS interface, a 6Gbit/s one hopefully. There is speculation that they could appear in a SOHO/consumer-class product where they would compete with Iomega's REV. This product is available with capacity options of 35, 70 and 120GB and can come in a bundle with CA's ARCserve software. It is also available as an external USB-connect device or as an internally-fitted dock with SATA, ATAPI or SCSI connectivity. The minimum RDX capacity is 160MB so there is a clear capacity separation between the REV and RDX products.

It's possible that the EMC-energised Iomega may boost REV capacity, or come up with a new product altogether to provide stronger competition for RDX.

It's also possible that other suppliers like Drobo may add a removable drive element to their products - how hard can it be to put a 2.5-inch hard drive in a shock-hardened plastic case fitted with a connector set? Also, looked at one way, the Drobo box is already a 4-bay dock and not a lot of development would be needed. Other potential entrants to this product space include Buffalo and La Cie.

Until this happens ProStor has the field to itself, with no effective price competition, and may even be growing sales and revenue while the recession blunts sales of other storage company's products. With IBM now added to Tandberg's OEM list its happy, happy OEM sales rep will be looking intently at other possibilities like Sun.

IBM is selling RDX docks and drives with Yosemite FileKeeper for use in System x or BladeCenter S environments, and they should be available from the end of January. ®

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