Quantum touts speedy enterprise-class deduplication appliance

It also revamps software licensing model

Quantum today announced a new version of its enterprise-class deduplication appliance that solves a long-standing issue for the company: data ingest and restore performance.

Quantum's DXi8500 appliance is a disk array with a maximum capacity of 200TB and, acting as a virtual tape library (VTL), it can deduplicate and ingest data from a backup server at a rate of 6.5TB per hour, the company said. That is more than three and a half times faster than Quantum's previous flagship deduplication device.

The appliance can also restore data at a rate of 5.4TB per hour, or 85% of its ingest speed.

With the launch, Quantum also tossed out its capacity-based software licensing model, and it now includes all of its standard data replication, trend analysis and data reclamation tools with the base model.

The DXi8500 supplants the DXi7500 as Quantum's flagship deduplication box, even though the new array has slightly less capacity than its predecessor. Steve Whitner, Quantum's product marketing manager, said that's because the company tweaked the RAID 6 data protection algorithm for better performance, which resulted in slightly less usable capacity.

The DXi8500 can scale from 20TB to 200TB using 1TB serial ATA (SATA) drives. The company plans to offer 2TB drives sometime next year.

By comparison, the DXi7500 scaled up to 220TB and used 3Gbit/sec SAS drives.

The DXi8500 also gets a performance boost through its use of Intel's six-core Nehalem processors and by doubling Fibre Channel port throughput from 4Gbit/sec on the previous box to 8Gbit/sec. The DXi8500 has six Fibre Channel ports, compared to two for its predecessor. The array also offers two 10Gbit/sec Ethernet ports and four gigabit Ethernet ports.

The previous DXi7500 offered only two or four gigabit Ethernet ports, depending on the model.

"A year ago, what you heard about Quantum is that it had issues with the restore speed or its performance in general," said Greg Schulz, an analyst with market research firm StorageIO. "The good news here is the fact that rather than denying it and telling you why restore is not important, they admitted it. They worked on it, and they fixed it."

Whitner didn't argue the point. "This looks like this is the solution we've been looking for. It's much better than it had been a year ago," he said. "This is designed to handle the kinds of problems that large data centers and enterprises with distributed sites see."

The DXi8500 can be presented to an application server as a network-attached storage system through its Ethernet ports or to backup servers as a VTL using Fibre Channel connectivity.

Like its predecessor, it can stream data directly to a tape backup system, so it acts as an intermediary between a backup server and tape archive system -- boosting performance and keeping data on disk in a nearline status until it's offloaded.

Whitner even compared the DXi8500 to EMC's Data Domain DD8800 deduplication appliance, saying the Quantum device beats its rival's performance by about 1TB/hour on ingest.

Another performance upgrade, Whitner said, is Quantum's decision to offer 15,000rpm, 140GB serial-attached SCSI (SAS) drives in the array. That allows users to stream data from their highest performance applications to the faster drives.

"We also include a direct path to tape archive by bypassing the backup server," he said. "We can now use five different backup applications to kick that process off."

The array supports Network File System (NFS), Common Internet File System (CIFS) and Symantec OpenStorage protocols. Quantum's management software performs monitoring, alerts and reporting tasks across all of the company's storage devices in a user environment through a single interface.

Schulz said the DXi8500 arrives at a time when IT shops are moving away from recession-era consolidation and cost-cutting and are now looking to increase system performance to reduce backup windows. "Performance equals time and time equals money," he said.

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