Tape Library Market Snubs Economic Slump

Despite the sluggish global economy of 2001, the tape library industry achieved unit growth of 3% and revenue decline of only 4% compared to 2000 according to the newly completed Freeman Report, “Tape Library Outlook 2002.”

Total demand for tape libraries rose to 63,500 units in 2001 and is projected to climb to 134,800 units in 2007, a compound annual growth rate of 13%. Revenue fell slightly to $2.15 billion in 2001, but will recover quickly and rise steadily to $3.6 billion in 2007, a growth rate of 9%. Total unit shipments and industry revenue will both see strong growth this year vs. 2001.

“LTO libraries took market share from every competing technology in virtually every market segment. LTO libraries were the only category to show growth in 2001, more than offsetting the combined declining shipments of all other categories,” says Robert C. Abraham, author of the report. “The increasing adoption of SAN and NAS network storage solutions continues to be the dominant driving force in the growth of automated tape libraries.”

“The magnitude of the growth of LTO libraries in 2001 was impressive, especially in a slumping economic environment,” observes Abraham. Library manufacturers quickly adopted these leading edge compact drives and demand for the libraries leaped from less than 700 units in 2000 to 13,200 units in 2001 as many performance-oriented users choose not to wait for Super DLT or AIT-3. Shipments will grow another 53% in 2002 to 20,100 units and to 55,000 in 2007, a compound growth of 27%. Factors underscoring this strong growth projection include an early market entry, multiple sources for the key library components, a well defined technology migration path, a wide range of library offerings, and competitive pricing.

Despite a significant decline in shipments, DLT libraries retained top volume position in the tape library market in 2001, and will retain the lead through 2007. DLT libraries commanded a 57% share of 2001 unit shipments, down 12% from the previous year. This percentage will erode to 41% by 2007 due primarily to the continued intrusion of LTO libraries. LTO libraries comprised 21% of unit shipments in 2001 and will match DLT’s 41% share of units in 2007. Eight-millimeter libraries accounted for 16% of the 2001 units and will essentially hold that portion of the market through 2007.

Libraries incorporating half-inch cartridge drives, Magstar MP drives, and high performance helical scan drives account for the remaining 6% of unit shipments in 2001. These combined units will comprise 2% of the 2007 total. Shipments of tape libraries using DAT drives ceased in 1999. The market for QIC/SLR libraries has failed to develop and comprise a negligible part of the tape library market.

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