StorageTek, Quantum To Unveil Tapeless Backup Systems

On Monday, StorageTek will launch its BladeStore Disk System, which makes use of ATA disk drives from Maxtor to provide 800 Gbytes of backup storage, said Thomas Major, vice president and general manager of StorageTek's Disk Business Unit.

Also on Monday, Quantum will finally ship its long-delayed DX30 tapeless backup system with up to 3.8 Tbytes of native capacity in a 4U form factor, said Shane Jackson, director of business development at the company.

Michael Fanelli, Western regional manager at Sales Strategies, said he has been waiting for vendors to offer such products.

The Metuchen, N.J.-based solution provider has been using snapshot technology to copy data to a disk array for later backup to tape, but the procedure required products from multiple vendors, Fanelli said.

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"It's great to have it in one package, assuming that it works and is priced right--not necessarily cheap, but right," Fanelli said. "This will simplify our integration and give us one throat to choke."

Sales Strategies does partner with vendor Nexsan Technologies, Woodland Hills, Calif., which has a similar product, Fanelli said.

Disk-based backup systems are emerging as a new class of storage systems that will sit in an emerging tiered architecture consisting of primary online disks, disk-based backup systems and existing tape-drive subsystems for archival storage, Major said.

This new layer of storage will make recovery of data from a backup system substantially faster while also providing a medium for backup systems that is more reliable than tape. Pricing for disk-based backup systems is expected to range from about $10 to $20 per Gbyte, compared with $30 to $100 per Gbyte for primary online storage and 30 cents to $1.50 per Gbyte for tape-backup systems.

Thomas said StorageTek plans to follow up the BladeStore launch with co-marketing partnerships with solutions providers and new certification programs built around the entire StorageTek product lineup.

The BladeStore Disk system is also part of a new set of storage devices leveraging the server blade architectures that are beginning to reshape data centers. Up to five Maxtor ATA drives can fit on a single server blade, and 10 server blades can be configured in a disk array to provide up to 8 Tbytes of storage using parallel ATA technology developed by StorageTek.

Starting in the second quarter of next year, solution providers should also expect to see serial ATA drives configured on blade servers to provide primary online backup at price points that would put pressure on existing Fibre Channel products, Thomas said.

StorageTek has been selling entry-level hard-drive arrays built by LSI Logic for some time, but the BladeStore was developed in-house, StorageTek executives said. LSI Logic, however, developed a related product, the BC84 controller, which turns multiple stand-alone BladeStores into a complete RAID subsystem.

Quantum's DX30 was actually announced in March but is only now becoming available, Jackson said. It is already in use at about 40 beta sites, and about eight solution providers are participating in the company's beta program, he said.

The DX30 capacity is fixed at 3.8 Tbytes, which amounts to about 3 Tbytes when configured for RAID 5. Throughput for the 2-Gbps Fibre Channel system is about 80 Mbytes per second, Jackson said.

While it is hard-disk-based, the DX30 emulates a tape library with two to six tape drives, Jackson said. It supports cloning to physical tape cartridges for off-site storage. "It presents itself to the backup software as a tape library, not a disk array," he said.

The list price for a fully configured DX30 is about $55,000, or about $16 per Gbyte.

Early next year, Quantum plans to allow the capacity of the DX30 to be expanded by 3 Tbytes, Jackson said. Improved scalability and hardware compression capabilities will follow, he said.

While it's nice to be able offer tapeless backup systems to customers, one should never discount the usability and long-term viability of tape, Fanelli said. "People who say you don't need tape are crazy," he said. "You still need tape for backups. You still need [tape's archival capability. Tape will always be used for less critical information, things that can wait a week before being restored."