Backup/recovery and archiving hardware and software provider Quantum on Dec. 11 introduced its first disk-based backup package that incorporates native data deduplication and replication software.
The new DXi3500 and DXi5500 appliances are the first products resulting from Quantums $770 million acquisition of ADIC (Advanced Digital Information Corp.) in August 2006, Quantum director of enterprise product marketing Shane Jackson told eWEEK.
Deduplication is a method by which all redundant copies of data and files are eliminated to improve overall data accessibility and drive down operational costs.
Deduplication can happen at several points in the information-gathering process: as data enters the system, at the server level or at the storage level.
By eliminating redundant data early in the process, the new DXi3500 and DXi5500 appliances allow users in midrange and data center environments to retain 10 to 50 times more backup data on fast recovery disk and cost-effectively store data for months instead of days, Jackson said.
Data de-duplication technology also allows Quantums appliances to provide WAN-based remote replication of backup data as a practical tool for disaster recovery between distributed sites such as data centers and regional offices, Jackson said.
“Since the acquisition, Quantum has combined key technologies from both companies in an integrated software layer that is part of the DXi-Series solution,” Jackson said.
“This includes Quantums patented data deduplication technology and other enhanced functionality, providing such advantages as best-in-class performance of up to 800 GB/hour and flexibility between NAS and virtual tape library [VTL] network interfaces.”
Quantum, based in San Jose, Calif., acquired the technology for deduplication in a “Pacman” approach, said David Hill, principal analyst at Mesabi Group in Westwood, Mass.
“ADIC swallowed up an [Australian] company called Rocksoft, and Quantum swallowed up ADIC,” Hill said.
“Deduplication makes VTLs [virtual tape libraries] much more attractive. The obvious reason is that VTLs are now much more cost-effective than before, because fewer [physical] disks can be used for backup data.”
The overall capacity that can be handled is also much higher, Hill added.
“So the first use case is as a local VTL,” Hill said. “However, de-duplication also reduces the transmission requirements for sending backup data over a WAN. The other two use cases then are using a remote VTL for disaster recovery and being able to back up remote offices to a central VTL.”
Hill added that because de-duplication is fast becoming a mandatory technology for success in this market (for all three use cases cited) and Quantums business is to provide a target for backup data, both on disk and tape, this technology is absolutely critical to their continued success.
“Data deduplication is a powerful technology, bringing real and immediate value to end users,” said Heidi Biggar, an analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group. “Combine that with hardware compression, asynchronous replication and onboard monitoring and diagnostic tools, and Quantums got a powerful message.”
Biggar added that the speed at which Quantum was able to bring this new product to market is no small feat, and is a testament to the direction and integration of the newly combined company.
What About the Competition
Quantums Jackson said the benefits of disk are limited because conventional disk storage cannot provide enough cost-effective capacity to let users retain more than a few days of backup data.
Additionally, Jackson said, the amount of backup data in distributed sites and cost of bandwidth have prevented disk-based remote replication from being a viable solution, leaving data at risk in the event of a site loss or other localized threat.
“Quantums DXi3500 and DXi5500 address these issues,” he said.
How will these new offerings stack up against the competition, which is quickly becoming more formidable?
“Avamar [now part of EMC] and Data Domain were pioneers in the use of de-duplication,” analyst Hill said. “Diligent, NexSan and Sepaton are other key players in the use of deduplication. All have good products, but Quantum is the only company that has native tape technology as well.”
Hill said this is important because although the increased use of VTLs will have an impact upon tape technology, tape will still serve a purpose, such as being a necessary emergency “spare tire.”
“Quantum has the ability to sell an effective combined solution and to help customers smoothly transition from all tape to a mixed disk/tape environment,” Hill said.
Also “Quantum already has an installed base of customers [both as Quantum and ADIC] for their tape products, and having a direct line to these customers as part of its customer database Rolodex will give it a foot in the door and a share of mind at customer sites.”
Key features in Quantums DXi-Series
In addition to data de-duplication, Quantums integrated software layer includes a high performance embedded file-system, high speed data compression, asynchronous replication, interface flexibility, and built-in monitoring, alerting and diagnostic tools.
This integrated software layer not only provides a key advantage for the DXi3500 and DXi5500 appliances, but also offers an extensible foundation for future intelligent backup, recovery and archive solutions, Jackson said.
The DXi-Series provides a variety of capacity options that deliver protection for data sets ranging from 250GB to 11TB in size.
The DXi3500 and DXi5500 are integrated appliances that can be presented to backup software as a NAS mount point (CIFS/NFS) or as a VTL with either Fibre Channel or iSCSI interconnect, Jackson said.
No matter how they appear to backup software, DXi-Series appliances are fully compatible with all leading backup applications and do not require that users change their existing backup methodology or infrastructure, he added.
Availability and pricing
Quantum plans to begin shipping DXi3500 and DXi5500 units early in the first calendar quarter of 2007. Pricing begins at $24,000 for an entry DXi-Series solution and scales across eight different available models with increasing amounts of storage capacity.