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I have quotes for an autoloader + extended warranty and I am baffled by the high cost of the warranty uplift.

  • HP LTO-2 Bundle $3000, 3yr extended service agreement $1280
  • Quantum LTO-3 $2912, 3yr extended server $1408

Why is the warranty cost high? Does it signal that autoloaders are a flawed solution?

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A little off topic...but probably because there are a lot of moving parts inside a tape drive...especially an autoloader. – GregD Aug 19 '10 at 17:29
If your life insurance is high does that make you a flawed solution? ;-) Tape drives cost a lot to insure/warranty because there's a lot in them that can go wrong. Tape is by no means a flawed solution or a cheap one if done properly. – RobM Aug 19 '10 at 18:23
Actually yes if your life insurance is really high chances are you are more of a flawed solution than someone who has low insurance premiums. – vfilby Aug 20 '10 at 21:25
up vote 2 down vote accepted

It signifies that tape drives are a consumable resource. For the same reason you couldn't even buy an extended warranty on an "enterprise SATA" drive 3 years ago, they just fail after a certain amount of usage. Tape drives are mechanical devices. The tape-heads wear out over time from simple use. The extended warranty is just their estimate at the likelihood that you'll wear out your tape-heads in the warranty period.

When it comes to auto-loaders, you also have a bunch of robotics inside. With that many actually moving parts, the warranty has to cost more than a server that sits there and spins fans while shuffling bits around.

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Besides the implied level of support and warranty of tape changes being "enterprise" products, they're actually fairly complicated devices.

Tape changer robots have a reasonably hard job. They're robots. They have acutators and sensors, tight tolerances, and other robot-y things. Generally speaking, you want them to be reliable, so it costs money in R&D, which gets amortized over the costs of the units and their extended warranties.

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And if auto-loaders develop opposable thumbs...we're screwed. – GregD Aug 19 '10 at 17:53
They already have the mechanical equivalent of opposable thumbs, or they wouldn't be able to load tapes. We'll get really screwed the day they'll start throwing error messages like "load it yourself, I've got better things to do". – Massimo Aug 19 '10 at 18:19

Moving'll pay it because you'll be in a panic when you need the tape drive working and it's usually discovered right when a server dies...high cost to get the replacement to you right away, maybe?

Probably because they know you'll pay it for high end equipment and businesses want peace of mind knowing there's someone to scream at and be responsible for the blame.

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Its like insurance - if its more likely to happen (ie break more often from a complicated set of moving parts), going to cost a lot to fix (replacement or sending a tech out, again lots of parts requires lots of training), and has a relatively high likelihood of being used in the event it is necessary (enterprises dont just let their backup systems fall apart and not worry about it), its going to cost more.

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