Quantum Corp. last week announced a new road map for its tape products, which will give users an easier upgrade path, faster performance and simpler SAN integration.
The plans affect mainly the second generation of Quantums SDLT (super digital linear tape) products, which Quantum will ship in May, a company spokesman said. Thats several months sooner than the mid-to-late 2003 time frame originally planned by the Milpitas, Calif., storage vendor.
Quantums SDLT-2 tapes, as the technology is known, will have 600GB capacities, instead of the 640GB originally planned. But the accompanying drives will be compatible with the standard DLT tapes used by Benchmark Storage Innovations Inc., a Boulder, Colo., maker of midrange tape systems acquired by Quantum in early September—so Benchmark customers who want to upgrade wont have to transfer data from old tapes.
The products will not have a significant price increase from the current-generation SDLT systems, officials said.
The plans are resonating well with users, whove waited three months to hear how the next-generation tapes and Benchmark acquisition will be rectified. "Its quite valuable. Weve been quite pleased with Benchmark, so wed be pretty interested in seeing that," said Mike Franklin, network manager at Colby-Sawyer College, in New London, N.H. Franklin, a Benchmark user for three years, backs up about 400GB daily and has several hundred tapes in an archive, he said.
Also, Quantum will announce that its top system, the SDLT 320, will get a native Fibre Channel interface next summer. To- day, users who want that have to buy after-market adapters. However, theyll have to buy new drives to get the feature; older drives will not be upgradable, officials said. All the SDLT-2 products will have native Fibre Channel.
Regarding the new connectivity, "thatll be very important. That would make things very good," said Scott Saunders, director of systems at Paxson Communications Corp., a television station based in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Paxson backs up an EMC Corp. Clariion SAN (storage area network) of 3 terabytes and has used Quantum systems for six years. Using an adapter product can cause latency, so "maybe we can eliminate part of the host issue; well get faster speeds," he said.
In future systems, Quantum will consider using iSCSI and Serial ATA options, the spokes- man said. An iSCSI option could be useful for small and midsize businesses. Since iSCSI involves a quality-versus-speed trade-off, and since tape backups generally dont have to be done immediately, the technologies are a good match, advocates said.
Meanwhile, for users requiring high-speed backups, Serial ATA products, such as Network Appliance Inc.s NearStor and Storage Technology Corp.s BladeStor and EchoView products, can be used as an economical backup cache.