Volume 10, Number 31 -- September 7, 2010

Quantum Adds Fibre Channel to Midrange De-dupe Boxes

Published: September 7, 2010

by Alex Woodie

Quantum last week launched a new midrange de-duplication and virtual tape library (VTL) storage device that works in Fibre Channel (FC) environments. The new DXi6700 offers data ingest rates of up to 3.5 TB per hour, while de-duplication routines whittle away at redundant data, making backups one-tenth of their original size. The devices will soon be connectable to IBM i servers through Quantum's partner, Tributary Systems.

The DXi6700 represents the second generation of Quantum's midrange de-duplication devices, and shows the Silicon Valley firm is working hard to maintain parity with EMC's Data Domain unit, which has a considerable lead in market- and mind-share in this fast-growing sector of the storage business.

The biggest feature separating the DXi6700 from the original DXi6500 launched last fall is the addition of FC connections. While the DXi6500 appeared to backup servers as a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device, the addition of FC functionality allows the new DXi6700 to appear as a SAN.

Quantum's engineers worked some magic to make the DXi6700 more sharable than ordinary FC devices, says Steve Whitner, product marketing manager for Quantum. "If you give people a NAS interface, it's inherently sharable. It works very well," he says. "But in the Fibre Channel world, a Fibre Channel LUN is not inherently sharable." Quantum was able to overcome these limitations by ensuring that the DXi6700 appears more as a NAS device.

The DXi6700 also offers more storage, with a range from 24 TB to 56 TB in 8 TB increments. The DXi6500 topped out at 32 TB. Quantum also added solid state drives (SSDs) to the mix, which helps maximize data ingest rates.

IBM i Connectivity

IBM i shops will get certified connectivity to DXi6700 systems through Tributary Systems. Tributary sells the Storage Director software that was previously developed by Gresham Enterprise Storage, but which Gresham sold to Tributary in November 2009. Gresham previously provided the certified IBM i connectivity for Quantum customers, and now Tributary Systems is continuing the integration and certification.

Ed Ahl, the former Gresham product manager who now works at Tributary, says the upcoming Storage Director 3.0 release will offer formal support for Quantum's NAS boxes, including the DXi6500 and DXi6700 devices. "We already kind of support it [in] our cache, our disk store. It's a file-system based," he says. Storage Director 3.0, due out in the fourth quarter of 2010 or the first quarter of 2011, will formalize that support.

Tributary's current and potential IBM i customers will welcome the speed increase that the new Fibre Channel Quantum boxes will enable. "We prefer that [Fibre Channel] from the performance standpoint," Ahl says. "All those de-dupe boxes are limited in the amount of data you can push at them at any point."

When used in an IBM i shop, Storage Director, which runs on any standard X64 server, front-ends the Quantum de-dupe box. Storage Director (soon to be offered on all IBM xSeries hardware) offers a range of connectivity options, including SCSI, iSCSI, and Fibre Channel. Storage devices sitting behind Storage Director can appear as tape libraries, VTLs, and, soon, NAS devices.

Many of Tributary's IBM i customers are interested in the replication capabilities of Quantum's boxes, and in some cases are looking to eliminate IBM i high availability data replication offerings and instead move their replication to a multi-function storage appliance like Quantum's. "Replication seems to be the hot key where the de-dupe box has the most interest," Ahl says. "It takes less disk. It's a cool concept."

Pricing for the DXi6700 starts at $159,000. For more information, see www.quantum.com.


Gresham Sells ETL Software and IP to Tributary Systems

Quantum Launches Midrange Data De-Duplication Appliances

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