Backup storage vendor Quantum Corp is launching the 8000 version of its DLTtape drive, casting it as a next step up from the current DLT7000 generation, while promising the more advanced SuperDLT product for next year, Quantum dominates the mid-range tape market with DLT, which last year represented around 30% of its revenue but most […]
Backup storage vendor Quantum Corp is launching the 8000 version of its DLTtape drive, casting it as a next step up from the current DLT7000 generation, while promising the more advanced SuperDLT product for next year,
Quantum dominates the mid-range tape market with DLT, which last year represented around 30% of its revenue but most of its profits, as its disk business is not making money right now. The product has about 89% of its potential market, according to figures from market researcher Dataquest.
Competition promises to become more intense over the next year, however, as the Linear Tape Open consortium (IBM Corp, Hewlett-Packard Co and Seagate Technology Inc) will be bringing its Ultrium cartridge to market. Aware that these heavyweights will apply technological and marketing muscle to their offering, Quantum nonetheless feels it has a couple of significant advantages over the newcomer, and DLT8000 is positioned to capitalize on them.
Firstly, there is the compatibility angle. Ultrium won’t be compatible with what’s currently in use, and with an installed base of roughly a million units right now, Quantum clearly sees this as the patrimony on which it must build its future sales. Thus, DLT product marketing manager at Quantum, Philip Treide, noted that the media for the 8000 drive is still DLTtape IV, making a transition from the 7000 generation easier. The new drive deliberately goes onto our existing media, making the 8000 a logical next step, Treide argued.
Quantum divides the market for its tape drives into a lower end, which it calls the value segment, running on low-to-mid-range NT servers, and a higher, performance segment, on Unix and high-end NT boxes. The 7000 generation sells into the latter, while the former is served by DLT4000. And while the 8000 series is launched as the natural progression in the upper segment, Treide said the NT market is moving towards automation as software vendors have moved into the space, so that by 2001 we see the 8000 series going into the value space. Meanwhile, of course, Quantum will have brought in SuperDLT, precisely for the performance end of the market.
The latter product will incorporate linear guided magnetic recording (LGMR) technology enabling both sides of the tape to the used; on the one side for read/write functions and on the other, to servo. It will have a higher track density than LTO and, according to the senior marketing manager for Quantum’s advanced products group, Geoff Hogan, has already undergone a change in specifications since the Milipitas, California-based company announced the project a year ago. SuperDLT will also be Quantum’s platform for native Fiber Channel connectivity, according to Treide.
Whereas, when first announced, SuperDLT was expected to scale from 100Gb per cartridge to 500Gb over the lifetime of the product, we now expect to go to a terabyte, said Hogan. As for transfer rates, where Quantum had predicted an increase from 10Mb/sec, native and uncompressed, to 40Mb/sec during the life cycle, it now predicts a rate of 100Mb/sec.
Again touting the compatibility angle, Hogan said SuperDLT will be backward read-compatible with all earlier generations of Quantum’s products, although not for writing. All other manufacturers’ equipment is incompatible, he went on, while newcomer LTO will be trying to break in, but with three manufacturers owning it, how long will they stay compatible with each other?