Quantum Improving Tapes Speed, Integration

New road map for its tape products will give users an easier upgrade path, faster performance and simpler SAN integration.

Quantum Corp. today 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 mainly affect the second generation of the vendors Super Digital Linear Tape products, which Quantum will ship in May 2003, according to a company spokesman. Thats several months sooner than the mid-to-late 2003 timeframe originally planned by the Milpitas, Calif., storage maker.

Quantums SDLT-2 tapes, as the technology is known, will have 600GB capacities, instead of the 640GB sizes 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 scores of old tapes.

Also, 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 the how the next-generation tapes and Benchmark acquisition would rectify.

"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, who has been a Benchmark user for three years, backs up about 400GB daily and has several hundred tapes in archive, he said.

Quantum also will announce that its current top system, the SDLT 320, will get a native Fibre Channel interface next summer.

Today, users who want that have to buy aftermarket adapters. However, theyll have to buy new drives to get the feature; older drives will not be upgradable, officials said. All of the SDLT-2 products will also 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 West Palm Beach, Fla.-based television station.

Paxson backs up an EMC Corp. Clariion storage area network of 3 terabytes and has used Quantum systems for six years. Using an adapter product can cause latency, so maybe if "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 spokesman said.

An iSCSI option could be useful for small and midsize businesses. Since iSCSI involves a quality-versus-speed tradeoff, and since tape backups generally dont have to be done immediately, the technologies are a good match, advocates have said.

Meanwhile, for uses requiring high-speed backups, Serial ATA products, such as Network Appliance Inc.s NearStor and Storage Technology (StorageTek) Corp.s BladeStor and EchoView products, can be used as an economical backup cache.