Quantum builds Scalar automated tape libraries for SMBs to scale

Quantum pitches entry-level LTO-4 tape automation libraries that SMBs can scale with software licenses for easier upgrades.

Despite placing a great emphasis on disk-based data backup and recovery the last few years, Quantum Corp. is looking to beef up its tape backup products as well. Quantum today unveiled new entry-level automated tape libraries aimed at small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that scale through software licenses and use the same management software as the vendor's enterprise libraries.

The Scalar i40 is a 3U two-drive box that ships with 40 slots -- at least 25 are active and customers can activate the rest through software licensing. The Scaler i80 is a 6U five-drive library that includes at least 50 active slots with the ability to upgrade to 80. The libraries support LTO-4 tape, and Quantum tape product marketing manager Kieran Maloney said Quantum will support LTO-5 by the middle of 2010. The i40 and i80 are available with Fibre Channel or SAS interfaces.

Maloney said letting customers upgrade by software license makes it easier to add capacity and is more appealing to smaller organizations. The new libraries use the same iLayer monitoring and remote diagnostic software as Quantum's larger iScalar midrange i500 and i2000 enterprise libraries.

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"Like on the disk side, we're taking our development efforts downstream to lower part of marketplace," Maloney said.

IDC analyst Robert Amatruda said Quantum's scalability is its big differentiator over other entry-level tape automation players. Quantum's main competitors in the entry-level space are server vendors Dell, Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. and IBM Corp. All three sell libraries through OEM deals with German vendor Best in Development and Technology (BDT). BDT provides the three server vendors with 2U 24-slot and 4U 48-slot libraries with no upgrade paths.

"There's not a whole lot of investment in tape going on by those companies," Amatruda said. "There's no real differentiation in the 2U and 4U products out there. There's no ability to scale them out. When customers run up against the 24- or 48-cartridge limit, they have to move to a bigger box. Quantum is giving them the ability to upgrade on the fly with a license key to quickly increase capacity."

Although data backup vendors -- including Quantum -- have moved much of their focus to disk and data deduplication in recent years as tape sales decline, Maloney said SMBs could be lured to tape because of price.

"Tape is still inexpensive," he said. "With an increase in regulatory requirements, keeping that long-term data retention on tape still makes most sense."

Pricing for the Scalar i40 starts at around $7,500 and the Scalar i80 will have a list price beginning at around $9,400.

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