Shift To Disk Backup Prompts New Quantum Tape, Disk Products

The Milpitas, Calif.-based tape drive and automation vendor on Monday unveiled the latest iteration of its midrange tape technology, DLT-S4, which provides high-capacity backups at what company officials say is the lowest cost-per-Gbyte archiving media.

Quantum also unveiled new hard drives built into removable cartridges that can be treated as tape for off-site archiving.

The new DLT-S4 tape cartridges from Quantum have a raw capacity of 800 Gbytes, which can be expanded to 1.6 Tbytes with compression. Data throughput for DLT-S4 drives is up to 60 Mbytes per second raw or 120 Mbytes per second compressed.

The drives are available with 4Gbps Fibre Channel, Ultra 320 SCSI, or SAS connectivity.

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Greg Fredericks, director of product marketing for Quantum, said for archiving purposes, access to data on the cartridges can be locked with user security keys. The keys can also be used for backing up data in a WORM format. Quantum in the near future also plans to add encryption capabilities to the DLT format, he said.

With the new DLT-S4 format, Fredericks said that Quantum is emphasizing capacity over performance. "As tape becomes an archiving media, and less of a backup media, so capacity becomes more important than performance," he said.

Pat Edwards, vice president of sales at Alliance Technology Group, a Hanover, Md.-based solution provider, said that Quantum is bringing out its new tape format just as the industry is looking for higher capacities.

"I don't have a lot of DLT customers," Edwards said. "But we are talking to customers about tape drives from StorageTek and IBM. Those drives start at $35,000 to $37,000, with cartridges running about $200 each. It sounds like Quantum could go after this market."

The new DLT-S4 drives cost much less, with list prices starting at $4,495, said Fredericks. Cartridge prices start at $100, which is a break from Quantum's traditional new product rollout pattern of starting new cartridges at $150 and gradually cutting prices, he said.

As a result, the DLT-S4 format offers a cost-per-Gbyte of about 6 cents, compared to 14 cents for LTO-3, the main rival to DLT, Fredericks said.

Edwards said that over the past couple of years, Quantum's DLT format has lost a lot of momentum to the LTO format. "They still have a long way to go before they can regain their market share," he said. "But with DLT-S4, maybe they can reclaim part of it."

The move to focus on higher capacity tape, one also cited by LTO tape technology vendors, including Quantum during the introduction of LTO-3, is coming as enterprises become more open to moving part of their backup process to disk-based systems, including virtual tape libraries.

Peripheral Concepts, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based analyst firm, and Coughlin Associates, an Atascadero, Calif.-based analyst firm, found in a survey earlier this year that 2006 will see enterprises backing more of their data up to disk than to tape.

In their report, the analysts also found that 57 percent of businesses would like to scrap their tape libraries in favor of disk-based systems. They also estimate that about 30 percent of businesses expect to back 80 percent of their data to disk by 2008, compared to about 17 percent of businesses that currently do so.

Quantum is also trying to help small businesses take advantage of disk-based backup technology with this week’s introduction of the GoVault Drive.

The GoVault Drive is a Seagate 2.5-inch mobile hard drive in a ruggedized cartridge that can protect the drive against falls of up to one meter, said Fredericks. They plug into a docking station that fits in a 3.5-inch or 5.25-inch server bay.

The drives are currently available in 40-Gbyte, 80-Gbyte, and 120-Gbyte capacities, with future capacity options increasing with new mobile hard drive releases, Fredericks said. Prices for the GoVault start at $299, which include a docking station, a 40-Gbyte hard drive cartridge and backup software from San Jose, Calif.-based Yosemite Technologies.

The GoVault will be available to solution providers and to custom system builders through distributors, Fredericks said. IBM is also planning to offer it as an option to its xSeries server family, he said.