Quantum Launches Disk-Based Backup

Improve backup performance

In the good old days it was common to take a server offline to back up data, but with the emergence of the 24-hour economy, even slight degradations in performance during backups are unacceptable. To help, Quantum Corp. introduced a new product Monday designed to improve backup performance.

"It is a very dense disk system," said Michael Brown, chairman and CEO of Quantum. The new DX30 disk-based backup product holds 3TB in a 2U space and boasts software that allows the array to appear as a tape library to recovery software.

Traditionally, hard drives have been too expensive to use as a backup medium, particularly in comparison to tape. DX30 uses cheap IDE hard drives like the ones in personal computers, rather than expensive SCSI drives. Although their performance is not good enough for most enterprise purposes, they compare favorably to tape in both performance and price.

John McArthur, group vice president of worldwide storage research at IDC, says only now are hard drives cheap enough to be used as a replacement for tape. Other disk-based products have entered the market, but the high cost and lack of perceived value has stymied their success.

Quantum crams 30 120GB IDE drives into the DX30 2U enclosure. While using all of that storage in a server would result in a quick meltdown, but heat is not a factor in this dense storage array. "We don't have to have all the disks spinning at the same time," Brown says.

The unit features two Fibre Channel HBAs and Gigabit Ethernet adapters to connect to servers and storage devices. The disk drives are mounted in a redundant RAID array, and it features management software, which, among other things, allows it to appear as a tape unit to disaster recovery software.

Quantum's DLT tape is the de facto standard tape for open systems, and it may appear that the company is cutting its own throat by introducing a disk based backup product. (It sold its hard drive unit to Maxtor in 2000.) However, DX30 is not intended as a replacement for tape libraries.

"It doesn't replace anything," McArthur says, "It provides substantial added value for corporations." The device is intended to work as a front end for tape libraries. Administrators back servers up to the faster disk array, and then move the data to tape libraries for archiving. If a server needs to be restored, it can come online faster, since the freshest backup will be on disk drives rather than tape.

Brown suggested Quantum might be able to sell more tape with the introduction of DX30, since users will treat tape exclusively as an archival medium and stop recycling tapes. "The archival process remains exactly the same," he says.

Quantum expects to ship DX30 in the second quarter of this year.

About the Author

Chris McConnell is Product and Technology Editor for Enterprise Systems.