Quantum disk speeds E-commerce sites

by Todd Spangler, Inter@ctive Week23 May 2000 - On the Web, every microsecond counts.That's the message from storage company Quantum, which claims to have devised a new way to package its solid-state disk technology for e-commerce sites.
Written by Todd Spangler, Contributor

by Todd Spangler, Inter@ctive Week

23 May 2000 - On the Web, every microsecond counts.

That's the message from storage company Quantum, which claims to have devised a new way to package its solid-state disk technology for e-commerce sites. Using the system, customers can dramatically improve the performance of their existing servers - in some cases, allowing five servers do the work of 25, according to the company.

"Response time is a key metric, because people are impatient," said Charlie Cassidy, vice president and general manager of Quantum's solid-state business unit. "If a site's overloaded, people will click through to another Web site."

Quantum's eSystem Accelerator, to be introduced this week, is based on its new Rushmore Ultra2 line of high-performance solid-state disk (SSD) systems. The offering also includes consulting services and on-site integration, which the company is providing through the Quantum/ATL Professional Services group.

Maximize the servers
Instead of adding more servers, Quantum's eSystem Accelerator lets customers maximize their existing server infrastructure, Cassidy said. "You're better served with fewer, more powerful systems."

Internet sites using Quantum's SSDs include iPrint.com and Digital Impact.

With its e-commerce tack, Quantum is following Solid Data Systems, which recently has been marketing its Excellerator SSD systems. Quantum and other SSD vendors traditionally have focused on server makers; now, these vendors see a chance to go directly to e-commerce sites.

"SSD has had trouble getting traction," said Joe Butt, a senior analyst at Forrester Research. "Quantum's eSystem Accelerator is a cool idea. It increases the life of the server configuration, and you don't have to redo everything in your infrastructure to install it."

The performance gain from Quantum's eSystem Accelerator is due to the nature of SSD technology, which is essentially memory that acts like a disk drive: Because it has no moving parts, SSD provides faster input/output response times than traditional hard disk drives. The Rushmore Ultra2 provides a 25-microsecond response time, compared with the 10,000-microsecond - 10-millisecond - response time of conventional disk drives, according to Quantum. SSDs are more expensive - they cost as much as 400 times more per megabyte than conventional disks - but Quantum executives said the technology isn't a replacement for traditional storage. Rather, it's a complement to speed up delivery of frequently accessed "hot" data.

Pricing for the eSystem Accelerator, which includes the consulting portion of the offering, ranges from US$12,000 to US$38,000 per disk.

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