Quantum Boosts Disk Array and Tape Library Capacity
November 15, 2011 Alex Woodie
Quantum today announced it’s boosted the capacity of its largest DXi-Series disk array and de-duplication device to 320 TB, giving customers a 60 percent increase in total storage. The company also unveiled an upgraded iScalar tape library that features dual robotics and a secret compartment for hiding tape archives that won’t get customers dinged on application license fees. Quantum’s latest stuff is available to IBM i shops through its recently renewed partnership with Tributary Systems.
Quantum is battling market leader Data Domain for a share of the data de-duplication market, which is valued somewhere between $2 billion and $3 billion per year. Quantum is by no means Data Domain’s only competitor in this field, but the Silicon Valley firm has made no bones about its intention to compete with Data Domain on performance and price.
To that end, Quantum today rolled out the latest enhancements to its high-end data de-dupe appliance, the DXi-8500, which should be available by the end of the year. The big news here is usable storage has increased from 200 TB to 320 TB, which makes the DXi-8500 the largest single de-dupe appliance in the industry, the company claims.
The company also claims a speed record with the DXi-8500, thanks to a software upgrade. DXi version 2.1 enables the device to move data at the rate of 8.8 TB per hour, which the company says is the fastest data transfer rate ever clocked for a unified, inline de-dupe appliance. It’s about 10 percent faster than Data Domain’s DD890 can move data, according to Quantum.
The speed increase led Quantum to put together an interesting comparison with its favorite target, Data Domain. The metric is: How much backup performance does $1,000 get you? According to Quantum, a thousand bucks of DXi8500 with version 2.1 firmware gets you 24 TB per hour of backup capacity (when configured as a virtual tape library). By comparison, a grand invested in a DD890 VTL configuration gets you about 12 TB per hour.
“There’s always temporal advantages with regard to performance, but what we’re really focused on is the overall value of the solution we provide,” DXi product manager Scott Hamilton tells IT Jungle. “The metric shows that we provide twice the price performance of the leader in the space. This is an aggressive and focused mantra that we placed across the entire DXi portfolio.”
Quantum has also unveiled a new task scheduler with the DXi 2.1 software that simplifies common monitoring and management tasks within DXi-8500 environments. The software will automate the execution of health checks, storage space reclamation, and replication tasks across one or more disk arrays.
The new scheduler is particularly good at helping to manage data replication activities across wide area networks, Hamilton says. “Even though those WAN lines coming into an environment might be relatively large, they generally share that bandwidth with other mission critical or business apps,” he says. “And so the ability to schedule when you’re going to open up the WAN line for replication, or maybe throttle it back to a degree during high traffic hours . . . the ability to do those things in a simple and consolidated fashion is pretty important.”
Quantum is also upgrading its Scalar i6000, the company’s largest LTO tape library. The company has remodeled and expanded the refrigerator-sized i6000 cabinets to make way for dual robotic arms. Each arm has access to the full library of LTO cartridges and drives. The arms can work simultaneously, and in the event that one of them breaks, it will park itself and leave the other arm to carry on the workload, without interrupting access to data.
As part of its renovation of the i6000, Quantum added a secret compartment within the unit’s frame, called the Active Vault, where customers can store cartridges that contain archive data. The Active Vault is a secret compartment insofar as the robotic arms can reach the tapes and access the data if necessary, but the added capacity enabled by the Active Vault does not count against the customer when it comes to licensing fees.
In many cases, application vendors charge customers based on the capacity of their tape library or the number of drives or cartridge slots they have. This has led many customers to store their tape archives on shelves within the data center, because they didn’t want to be charged for storing the data in the library. But this necessitated the “sneakernet” data access technique, which is time consuming and can wear down your IT staff’s soles. Quantum’s Active Vault eliminates the manual handling of cartridges, without incurring the additional fees.
Finally, Quantum announced Vision 4.1, a new release of its reporting and management software that provides a single point of visibility and control over all of Quantum’s disk and tape offerings. One of the most compelling new features in Vision 4.1 is a graphical overview that gives the real-time state of all of a customer’s Quantum devices. “You can easily, at a glance, get a state of union across your global enterprise,” Hamilton says. “They’re all synchronized for you in a very consolidated, simple, and intuitive sort of way.”
This release also brings new analytical tools designed to help customers spot potential problems with their storage devices. “One of the age old questions, when you can’t get access, is always ‘Is it a drive or a tape problem?'” Hamilton says. “We’re cross-indexing historical data and tape alerts by media and drive. Over the course of time, you can see if there are any early indicators and any aging, whether it be on the drive side or the tape side. It helps us to do some predictive analysis, and also provides the end user advanced notice so that if they need to copy some data on media that’s been aging to a fresh one, they can do that in advance with no disruption.”
Quantum partners with Tributary Systems to provide DXi-Series disk and Scalar tape solutions to IBM i and z/OS shops. Tributary’s Storage Director solution serves as a connector between Quantum’s storage products and the proprietary IBM servers. In September, Quantum refreshed Tributary’s certifications, and Tributary also became a member of Quantum’s channel, giving it the capability to sell the storage products directly to IBM i and mainframe customers.
The DXi8500 with DXi 2.1 software will become available in December starting at a price of $300,000. The Scalar i6000 with dual robotics will become available in December at a starting price of $50,000. The Active Vault feature in the Scalar i6000 is available today and costs $10,000. Vision 4.1 is available and starts at $5,500 for one Scalar or DXi license; additional Scalar and DXi licenses are $2750. For more information on the DXi and Scalar storage products, see www.quantum.com or www.tributary.com.