Quantum announces data de-duplicating backup arrays

Disk arrays designed for remote offices and data centres

Quantum announced the availability of data de-duplication technology in two new models of its DX family of virtual tape libraries (VTL), claiming the new technology can reduce capacity requirements by a factor of 10 to 50.

The DXi3500 and DXi5500 are disk arrays designed for remote offices and data centres, respectively. They are capable of storing from 1.5TB to 11TB of data as well as replicating that data over a WAN. The arrays can act as network-attached storage (NAS) using Gigabit Ethernet for file-level data, or they can be used as part of a storage-area network (SAN) using either the iSCSI and Fibre Channel protocols for block-level data transfers.

The arrays are expected to be available toward the end of next month.

Data de-duplication, or data reduction, involves looking for redundant blocks of data within backup jobs and storing or replicating only the unique blocks so users can recover from disk for longer periods of time. The technology also creates efficiencies when moving larger volumes of backup data between sites over a WAN by reducing bandwidth requirements.

Both VTLs are able to replicate data over a WAN for disaster recovery purposes between distributed sites such as data centres and regional offices. Quantum acquired the data de-duplication technology for its arrays through its buyout of rival ADIC earlier this year.

Other vendors of data de-duplication technology include EMC (through its recent buyout of Avamar Technologies), Data Domain, Diligent Technologies, Exagrid Systems, FalconStor Software and Sepaton, as well as larger vendors such as Network Appliance and Symantec.

According to Gartner, prices for data de-duplication software range from about US$9,000 per terabyte for Avamar's product to US$19,000-US$105,000 per terabyte in hardware products such as Data Domain's appliance and gateways.

The suggested retail price for a starter DXi3500 begins at US$24,000 with 1.5 TB of capacity with an average retention time of two to three months.

Quantum said it is not releasing any other pricing until January.

"The fact that Quantum does both compression (through hardware) and data reduction is currently a differentiator in the market. Only a couple players currently do both (e.g., Avamar), though over the course of 2007, you can expect many more players to do both," Heidi Biggar, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, in Massachusetts, U.S., said via e-mail.

Biggar said Quantum's features will become necessary "check-off items" over time, and added that they will eventually not be differentiators.

According to Quantum, backup speed is another factor that sets its VTLs apart from competing products: the DXi3500 can back up at 290GB per hour, and the DXi500 can transfer data at 800GB per hour.

"I think the real thing that stands out here is the speed at which Quantum was able to leverage its [ADIC acquisition] and get the DXi to market -- superfast. And that's a rarity in acquisition situations," Biggar said.

The DXi3500 is a 2U-high (3.5 in.) box that holds four or eight 500GB or 750GB serial ATA drives for a total of 4.5TB usable capacity. The DXi5500 is a 5U-high (8.75 in.) box that can hold 12 or 24 disk drives for a total usable capacity of 11TB.

Biggar said that data de-duplication technology (which Enterprise Strategy Group calls "capacity optimization protection") is still leading edge, but that 2007 will be the year it takes off because of its ability to reduce capacity requirements.

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