Quantum challenges EMC with high-end VTL

Posted on October 11, 2010 By Dave Simpson


By Dave Simpson

October 11, 2010 – Quantum introduced the DXi8500 virtual tape library (VTL) today, which will compete directly with the EMC Data Domain DD880. Quantum officials claim advantages in performance, capacity and price.

Quantum claims performance of 6.4TB per hour for the DXi8500 in VTL mode. That’s 3X faster than Quantum’s previous high-end VTL, the DXi7500, and 20% faster than the EMC DD880’s 5.4TB per hour in VTL mode. However, EMC specifies performance of 8TB per hour on the DD880 when used in conjunction with EMC’s DD Boost software.

Lauren Whitehouse, a senior analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), advises users to compare apples to apples.

“Quantum is quoting benchmarks for its VTL interface. [EMC’s] DD Boost is an implementation using either a NetBackup OST interface or a similar level of integration with NetWorker,” says Whitehouse. “The OST interface has shown marked improvements in performance for all vendors using it, including Quantum. But Quantum’s reference to the DD880’s 5.4TB per hour performance is specific to a VTL interface, so it’s an apples-to-apples comparison. That gives Quantum the performance edge.”

Steve Whitner, product marketing manager for DXi systems at Quantum, attributes the performance improvements in the DXi8500 to a number of factors, including the use of six-core Nehalem processors, an improved RAID-6 layout, high-bandwidth internal connections and multi-threading, and 8Gbps Fibre Channel and 10GbE external connectivity. (The DXi8500 is also available with Gigabit Ethernet connections.)

In addition, Quantum added 15,000rpm, 6Gbps SAS drives in the DXi8500. The high-speed SAS drives are used for indexes and metadata, while the rest of the DXi8500’s capacity is on SATA drives. Whitner says that the SAS drives typically account for 2.5TB to 5TB of the DXi8500’s maximum capacity of 200TB (which compares to a maximum capacity of 140TB on the EMC DD880).

Whitner also claims that the DXi8500 VTL can read data out at about 85% of the write speed, or about 5.44TB per hour, and that the system’s data deduplication can cut capacity and bandwidth usage by 90% or more.

Quantum also plans to undercut EMC on pricing. A DXi8500 VTL with 90TB of usable capacity is priced at $731,000, including all software. In contrast, EMC has feature-based pricing on the DD880.

“[The DXi8500 and DD880] are differentiated by acquisition cost,” says ESG’s Whitehouse. “Quantum has been bundling in software features, such as replication between appliances, on other models in the DXi family. By doing that with the DXi8500 they’re getting a price advantage. Given that ESG survey respondents rank cost and performance as the top considerations in purchasing a deduplication target system, I’d say that Quantum is taking the right stance.”

As do other members of the DXi family, the DXi8500 includes a direct path-to-tape option for VTL and OST interfaces that writes backup data directly from the DXi to a tape library, bypassing the backup server.

In addition to VTL and OST, the DXi8500 supports NAS (CIFS/NFS) protocols, as well as native mode VTL and NAS shares.

Capacity for the DXi8500 ranges from 20TB to 200TB, and base pricing starts at $430,000.

Software for the DXi8500 includes Quantum’s Advanced Reporting and Vision software, which can be used across Quantum’s product lines.

Shipments of the DXi8500 are scheduled for mid-November.

Related articles:

Quantum ships mid-range FC VTL (DXi6700)

EMC NetWorker Gets DD Boost Integration, New Pricing (Enterprise Storage Forum)

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