Quantum Bets Big On Bigger-Bang-For-The-Storage Buck

Quantum’s latest offerings promise a lot of bang-for-the-buck for the purpose-built backup/dedupe appliance and tape archive markets, but the company still faces an uphill battle against storage giants like EMC, HP and IBM and a host of formidable competitors. The company says its Dxi6800 series of deduplication appliances are priced the same as the EMC alternative but also are 4x faster, 3x more scalable, take up half the space, and feature pay-as-you-grow extensibility. The Scalar i6000 HD enterprise tape library stores 5Pb in a single rack and scales to over 75Pb, delivering what Quantum calls the industry’s best tape slot density for large-scale archiving and long-term retention of Big Data.

In October Quantum reported revenue of $147.3 million and non-GAAP loss per share of $0.02 for the second fiscal quarter of 2013. CEO Jonathan Gacek said DXi revenue was up 30% year-over-year and 129% sequentially and the win rates against the reference competitor increased to 55% as well. The purpose-built backup appliances is expected to reach $5.3 billion in 2015, more than doubling from 2011, and we think we are well-positioned to increase our share of this growing market, he added.

The news was less positive for the tape business, with a year-over-year decline – down approximately 20% – in both branded and OEM tape automation revenue. Tape automation systems revenue was $48.8 million compared to $52.4 million in Q2 of fiscal ’12. Branded automation contributed to approximately 2/3 of the decline, with OEM accounting for the other 1/3.

Data protection will continue to be a spending priority for 2013 and was also one of the largest causes for storage expenditures in 2012, said Jason Buffington, senior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group, in a prepared statement. “So, improving your deduplication ability will not only improve your backups, but reduce your storage expenses as well. The DXi6800’s features and reported performance should put it on the short list for data centers seeking a fast and extensible deduplication solution.”

IDC’s Robert Amatruda, Research Director, Data-Protection and Recovery, also provided a prepared statement about Quantum’s continued focus on extending its tape leadership in the market. “The latest density, scalability and redundancy features added to the Scalar i6000 tape libraries make it an ideal solution for managing big data archives and cost effectively maintaining data stored in the cloud.”

According to recent research from 451 Research, de-duplication, doubling in backup capacity between studies, is the significant winner at the expense of tape, said Marco Coulter, research director for storage. This trend will continue, as the expected growth rate for de-duplication is 44%, while tape sees its first negative growth among our studies with -2%.

EMC is far and away the leader in this technology, with the real battle is for second place, with NetApp, IBM and Symantec neck and neck in this race, with Symantec seeing the largest presence in plans outside of EMC. Other players like CommVault, Sepaton and Quantum appear to gather a niche place in the segment.

The backup de-duplication market is far from saturated, despite already being in use for 60% of our respondents, said Coulter. What drives continued growth among datacenters where the technology is already deployed? It is the increase in the number of days retained in de-duplication farms. Between studies, the plurality has moved from around 30 days up to 41-60 days being kept in de-duplication devices before being moved off to tape.

In December IDC reported that purpose-built backup appliance (PBBA) factory revenues were flat in the third quarter, totaling just under $655.3 million. EMC maintained its lead in the overall PBBA market with 66.6% revenue share, followed by IBM and Symantec with 10.8% and 6.8% market share, respectively. While a distant 5th, with 2.8% market share and $18.4 million in revenues, Quantum was up 5.1%, while both HP and IBM saw their revenues decline.

Chris Hoffman, DXi product marketing manager, said Quantum has shipped over 1,000 units of the DXi6701/02 in the last 18 months, primarily to midmarket customers. It’s also drawing attention from larger customers who can deploy two systems for better aggregate performance than one large (EMC) system, he said.

His counterpart on the Scalar side, Mark Pastor, said that while the tape market is changing to more of a focus on long-term archival storage, there’s still a good business opportunity. “A lot of enterprise customers are generation skippers, who are still on LTO-4.”

Key features of the Dxi6800 include: up to 16 TB/hour performance; 13-156 TB of usable capacity in a single system; licenses for NAS, VTL, OST, deduplication, replication, path-to-tape and DXi Accent software for hybrid deduplication; and data-at-rest encryption. Available now, pricing starts at $110,000 MSRP for a base unit with 13 TB usable storage

Scheduled to ship in March and backwards compatible with the Scalar i2000 systems, the i6000 HD (LTO-6) includes: proactive diagnostics and redundant systems, such as power, network ports for encryption key management and connectivity for multi-fabric SAN architectures; and Active Vault technology for storing vaulted tapes securely in the library and automated policy-based integrity checking, delivering the richest feature set for management of massive data archives.


Author: Steve Wexler

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