Quantum steps up disk-based backup

Company has paraded the results of recent acquisitions in its first disk-based backup, recovery and archiving solution

After moving down the acquisition trail, Quantum has shown off the results with the launch of a storage system aimed at one of the hottest areas of the market at present: data de-duplication solutions.

The aim is to offer backup, recovery and archiving — which is traditionally done using tape — in one disk-based storage solution. Quantum had little presence in this market before purchasing Adic, which offers solutions across all three areas, and Rocksoft, which offers a crucial piece of software with its own technique for de-duplicating data, called Blocklets.

The acquisitions of both companies only went through in the third quarter of 2006, but Quantum has lost no time in getting new products to market which use technologies from both firms.

The DXi3500 and the DXi5500 are focused on answering a key question of disk-based storage backup and retrieval systems — how to offer those facilities at a low-enough price to make it worthwhile for IT departments to use them instead of tape.

With the DXi3500 offering eight hard drives and the larger 5500 up to 24, the solutions are designed to protect customers' data from 250GB to 10TB. The individual drive capacity can be 500GB or 750GB. Quantum is claiming a fast data-transfer rate of 800GB per hour.

The drives' patented de-duplication technology is designed to remove duplicate data when backing up, which cuts down the size of files being backed up and increases all-round speed for both backup and restore. Quantum is claiming that using the technology drives can retain between 10 and 50 times the data, without using the software.

Furthermore, according to Quantum's director of product marketing, Steve Mackey, Quantum has a lead in this type of technology. "It is the first and only of its type," he told ZDNet UK.

But others would take issue with such a bold claim. According to Mackey, the DXi drives are aimed at the mid-range market which Net Appliances leads, but EMC is likely to be major competition for Quantum. Talking to ZDNet UK, Mark Sorenson, senior vice president for EMC's software group, said that EMC's technology was "way ahead" of any competing technology.

EMC acquired the de-duplication technology in the same way Quantum acquired its own — through the acquisition of another company. In November, EMC completed the acquisition of Avamar Technologies for $165m. But Avamar is still going through the process of integration with EMC, while Quantum has moved to launch.

"Avamar gives us some great technologies," said Sorenson. "This is an important area for us and we are approaching an inflection point [in de-duplication technology]".

But while EMC is busy finding ways to incorporate Avamar's software into its storage software and hardware products, Sorenson admitted that the company is some way from incorporating de-duplication software as a standard offering included in tape-storage hardware. "I think we are two or three years away from that," he said.

The Quantum DXi range with de-duplication software costs from £12,000.