IBM Kills Off VXA, Older Tape Drives for Systems i5s
February 26, 2007 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Buried in the System i5 announcements from February 6 was a note from IBM that explained the vendor was going to be killing off its entry VXA tape drives for the System i5 line. This may come as something of a surprise to System i5 customers looking for inexpensive but reasonably fast tape technology for their systems.
The VXA tape drive is a descendant of the very popular 8 mm Sony tape drive that was commercialized for the computer business by the formerly independent and once high-flying Exabyte, which was acquired by rival Tandberg Data. Tandberg, of course, supplies IBM with its quarter-inch cartridge (QIC) tape drives on the i5 line and its predecessors.
The reason why IBM is dropping the VXA tape drive from the i5 line seems to have more to do with demand than it does with the acquisition of Exabyte by Tandberg. “The volume for VXA was low, so we are withdrawing the product,” explains Mark Olson, one of the worldwide System i5 product managers at IBM. “We just haven’t had a lot of pickup on this.” And so, all VXA tape drives, including the VXA 320 drive that IBM announced for the System i5 and System p5 lines a year ago, are kaput.
Just for the record, media and drive support for older 9348 1/2-inch tape drives, which date from the AS/400 era, are also being withdrawn in future System i5 boxes. The current i5 line will be the last to support 3570 and 3575 tape drives, 3490 and LTO-1 tape drives that attach to the system through a 2749 SCSI controller, and 4 GB, 16 GB, and 25 GB QIC drives. IBM will support 300 GB QIC drives and any other kickers that Tandberg comes up with.