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CEO Jamie Lerner On Quantum’s NVMe, Edge Computing Focus

Joseph F. Kovar

‘Putting Quantum into a cubby as a tape business is probably a pretty dated view of the company. It’s something that we sell. But we have object storage, file storage. We have ruggedized edge storage. We have cloud storage. We have data management software,’ Quantum President and CEO Jamie Lerner tells CRN.

Quantum was among several multibillion-dollar international companies that took the federal Payroll Protection Program loan from the U.S. government near the start of the pandemic. Did Quantum return that money?

We kept it. I think that controversy that you’re referring to was a pretty wide brush that was used to paint any company other than very small businesses as somehow doing something inappropriate. So we actually stood in front of the House subcommittee. We walked through everything that we did to qualify and show that we qualified exactly to the rules as defined, [and] how we used the money exactly according to the rules. And the government came back to us and really gave us a clean bill of health, and saw no wrongdoing. And not only that, we also fit all the qualifications for forgiveness. So, we went in open-minded. Today, if you think we’ve done something wrong, tell us. We showed an open book of what we’ve done. And today everyone feels we were in full compliance and did everything appropriately. So I think it’s pretty wide brush was used. But when they looked at our individual case, everyone felt we did the right thing.

So what did Quantum use the PPP loan for?

One hundred percent for payroll.

How does your head count look now compared to before the pandemic started?

There’s always people coming and going. But it’s pretty much pretty similar to before COVID.

Quantum traditionally has been known best known for its tape business, and every once in a while someone says tape is dead, even though it isn't. How is Quantum's tape business? Could we see the end of tape some day?

I’ll answer that in two ways. First, I think putting Quantum into a cubby as a tape business is probably a pretty dated view of the company. It’s something that we sell. But we have object storage, file storage. We have ruggedized edge storage. We have cloud storage. We have data management software. So I think one of the things that’s really important for me and as we transform the company is to really get out of this cubby we’ve been put in that we’re a tape vendor. It’s really one product line among many of the things that we do.

And I would say going forward that backup is not really going to be the primary use of tape. Tape has turned out to be, as really researched by the world’s biggest cloud companies who are probably leading the world in data center innovation, they discovered if you’re wrestling with a 100-year data preservation issue and you need to store data safely and cost-effectively for many decades, tape is the most viable way to do that. This is driven by the simple fact that no one has been able to invent a better way to store data than with cellophane with some chemical sprayed on it. You know, hard disks are so much mechanicals and silicon. NVMe is all silicon. And tape is just cellophane. And it’s just extraordinarily inexpensive and can last, when well curated. Getting a decent tape to last 20 years or longer is actually quite common. And so the archiving use cases of tape are growing while backup is, I would say, flat to down.

 
Joseph F. Kovar

Joseph F. Kovar is a senior editor and reporter for the storage and the non-tech-focused channel beats for CRN. He keeps readers abreast of the latest issues related to such areas as data life-cycle, business continuity and disaster recovery, and data centers, along with related services and software, while highlighting some of the key trends that impact the IT channel overall. He can be reached at jkovar@thechannelcompany.com.

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