Benchmark Tape Systems Targets Midrange Networks with DLT1 Tape

DLT tape has been the top dog in backup formats for some time, but Quantum Corp. ( has focused its energies on creating new high-performance, high-cost iterations of the tape format. One new company, however, intends to fill the gap between low-end backup tape and high-end performance tape using the DLT design.

Benchmark Tape Systems Corp. ( licensed the DLT cartridge and format from Quantum for a new line of tape and drives, dubbed DLT1. The company is aiming to hit the price/performance sweet spot for small to medium-sized networks. "We’re pushing this into a market Quantum hasn’t pursued," says Steve Berens, executive director of marketing at Benchmark.

Benchmark believes DLT1 improves the performance and reliability of Quantum’s previous DLT4000 iteration, but offers a lower cost solution compared with the new DLT7000/SuperDLT formats for companies who do not need the truncated backup windows Quantum’s tapes provide. "Some enterprises don’t have that massive need for rapid backup," Berens says.

Berens explains that Benchmark will not compete with Quantum, but will instead go head-to-head with DAT and 8 mm formats that are slowly rising from the desktop and low-end servers. Because DAT and 8 mm are formats repurposed from consumer audio and video, they were not designed for enterprise-class backup duties. By contrast, DLT1 began as a data center grade backup medium, with a price that was brought down to the midrange server market.

Berens asserts that while Benchmark has licensed the DLT cartridge and compatibility, Benchmark is not a clone vendor. It developed its own standard and technology that fits inside a DLT cartridge.

Berens says that unlike other midgrade backup vendors, Benchmark has a roadmap for future iterations of their product.

Jim Watson, president of Breece Hill Technologies Inc. (, which adopted DLT1 in its B215 library, says current users of DLT4000 may be interested in DLT1 applications. Users who are happy with DLT4000’s performance, not needing the accelerated performance of DLT7000, can move to the DLT1 drives since they offer backward compatibility with DLT4000.

Watson says he is targeting small to medium-sized companies with two or more servers with the library for his entry-level libraries. Breece Hill is primarily an automation vendor, however, integrating most formats their users want.

Dell Computer Corp. ( is also incorporating DLT1 drives into its PowerVault storage line, also aimed at small to medium-sized server environments. Watson says Dell's use will help DLT1 to gain adoption in the market. "It is extremely important to have a market-making vendor to attract users."

Berens suggests that Dell chose DLT1 because of Benchmark’s focus on stability. "They don’t want to bother with a drive that’s unreliable," he says. When drives fail, Barrens points out, a vendor not only loses a sale, but spends resources beyond the cost of the product.