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"The Accellis format was designed as a fast access tape and customers were more interested in high capacity and performance, which is why the Ultrium format did take off," says Masters. Both Renfree and Holmes concur with Masters. With that said though, all three also agree that new industry offerings continue to expand user's choices and that the Accellis format may (after-all) play a part in future generation fast-access tape technologies.
"We had a few requests for Accellis in the very early stages of the announcement, but all of the interest has been in the Ultrium format", says Renfree.
According to Masters, even though the Accellis format did not achieve industry acceptance, the goal of the LTO initiative was to provide users of tape technology, including those in the SAN market, with a leading-edge tape format based on proven technologies that provide choices, not trade-offs, and the initiative did do this.
Holmes goes on to say that the original premise of the LTO initiative was to embrace and extend proven tape technologies as the foundation for best-of-breed products and to provide accessible technology specifications through open licensing. "I think that with everything that has happened in the storage industry, we have accomplished the original premise of the initiative," says Masters.
Renfree says that the three companies wanted to enable product development by multiple vendors in order to create a competitive market. "And," he continued, "we wanted to establish format verification testing procedures that would help assure data integrity and cartridge interchangeability". Masters, Holmes, and Renfree all agree that the plan was to define a credible future growth path to protect customer investments, a plan which they say has also been accomplished.
"The entire development of the two formats was amazing to watch," says Masters, "because there was a large portion of the industry that thought our three companies would never be able to work together - thus never be able to pull the initiative off." As history has shown us, the industry was wrong. According to Holmes, the three companies created a virtual organization with executives from each company and functioned as an organization. "The fact is that individually we would never have been able to do this," says Renfree. "And as a business case," he continued, "it's a very telling story of how companies who are fierce competitors can work together."
"Tape continues to be the cornerstone of the enterprise storage plan," says Holmes. "And, just because the Accellis format did not originally receive the 'thumbs up' from network tape buyers, this does not mean that we won't see a rebirth of Accellis in the future. "In addition," says Masters, "because the LTO consists of a tape format specification and process for licensing LTO technology to other vendors and certifying that the media and devices these vendors create are compliant with the specification, the result has been a solid technology foundation with plenty of room for licensees to create products in a competitive environment."
Accellis may have not gained the market share which its creators had first envisioned, but the LTO products as a whole are a remarkable piece of cooperative engineering between three of the industry's most fierce competitors. And, as the Ultrium format continues through its generations, storage customers will continue to be able to keep pace with their ever-changing data storage needs using an open standard. And who knows, as storage needs continue to evolve and develop, maybe one day we will see the rebirth of Accellis.