Iomega Offers REV Drive as Tape Alternative

Iomega, one of the largest storage peripherals providers in the United States, began shipping a new drive today designed to go head-to-head against tape backup systems. The new REV drive, which comes in 35-GB and 90-GB capacities, consists of a drive housing plus the new REV removable media that is said to offer performance equivalent to standard hard drives.

According to the company, REV disks can transfer data up to eight times faster than tape and can be rewritten more than a million times. The disks, which are smaller than a deck of playing cards (10 x 77 x 75 mm), can transfer data at 25 MB per second. Iomega said that with two-stage error correction and automatic head-cleaning technology, the new REV drive will offer an error rate three orders of magnitude better than that of today’s sealed hard drives.

Unlike most removable media technologies, the REV’s new architecture is designed to keep the sensitive read-write heads and electronics sealed inside the case with an air-filtration system that creates a small clean-room environment inside the removable disk itself. According to the company, the REV disks have a shelf life that exceeds 30 years.

Appeal to Tape Backup Users

The company hopes the new REV drive will appeal to businesses that have avoided tape backup products because they are often expensive and sometimes difficult to use.

“Iomega’s REV drive is a compelling alternative for customers who have traditionally used tape for backup and data protection on their entry level servers as well as high-end desktops,” said Robert Amatruda, research manager at IDC. “REV’s performance, easy-of-use and attractive price make it a good fit for small businesses that value high-capacity removable storage.”

Included with the REV drive is the company’s Automatic Backup Pro software. Once configured, the software automatically backs up specified files, including multiple revisions; keeps multiple backup sets on different destination drives; and excludes user-selected files by file type.

Symantec’s Norton Ghost software is also included for disaster recovery, letting users capture an image of the computer’s main hard drive partition, including all data files, system files, settings and installed software. If disaster strikes, the disk image can be copied back to the replacement drive from the REV disk.

Evaluating REV Drives

Original equipment manufacturers, according to Iomega, are evaluating REV drives for use in server systems, products that often ship without high-capacity backup technology built in. German manufacturer BDT GmbH, for example, is exploring the possibility of developing autoloader products using Iomega REV technology.

BDT currently supplies about 70 percent of the low-end autoloader market through its OEM relationships with computer companies, including Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Quantum and ADIC.

Iomega and BDT envision a range of autoloader products using REV technology, from full-height 5.25-inch single-drive products with 280 GB of native storage capacity to multidrive 4U configurations with more than 4 terabytes of native storage.

Specs and Pricing

The initial REV products could herald a new generation of backup technologies from Iomega. Later in 2004, for example, the company expects to release what it is calling “boot-and-run software.”

If a primary hard drive fails, users can simply boot and run directly from a REV drive, giving them access to all the files, applications and functionality of their primary internal hard drive until the failed drive can be replaced.

Supported operating systems for the REV drive announced today include Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. The Iomega REV drive is now shipping in a USB 2.0 external configuration for US$399 and in an ATAPI internal configuration for $379. REV disks are available individually for $59.99.

Iomega REV autoloaders, which will support multiple disks per drive unit, are currently planned for introduction in the second half of 2004. FireWire, SCSI and SATA models are also planned for introduction in the second half of this year.

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