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Disk advocate EMC tells tale of tape

The maker of disk-based storage systems decides there's a place for tape-based setups after all.

When it comes to storing data these days, disks just aren't enough, EMC indicated this week.

The maker of disk-based storage systems announced Thursday that it will resell tape-based devices from Advanced Digital Information Corp. as a way of giving customers a less-expensive option for storing noncritical data. In addition, ADIC will resell EMC's midrange Clariion storage setups.

EMC, which gave a bullish business outlook this week, said the deal is a key step in its effort to help customers with so-called information life cycle management, or ILM--storing data on a variety of devices over time, depending on the data's relative value to an organization.

One factor behind the ILM effort is regulations such as the Securities and Exchange Commission's Rule 17a-4, which requires companies to store data for extended periods of time but in some instances calls for easy accessibility only during the first two years of storage. Many companies are looking to tape-based systems--seen as slower but cheaper than their disk-based brethren--to handle the long-haul duties, suggested Mike Kahn, analyst with researcher The Clipper Group.

EMC has sold a tape product from Quantum in conjunction with a data-back-up package. But EMC did not sell the Quantum product separately, a company spokesman said.

EMC's embrace of tape in the ADIC partnership is a bit of a reversal from the company's stance in the past, Kahn said. "They basically were predicting or hoping for a tapeless world," he said.

EMC will resell so-called tape libraries from ADIC. Tape libraries are robotic mechanisms that house a number of magnetic tape drives and cartridges.