Quantum bets on Linux for midrange NAS

By Lisa Coleman

Almost nine months after acquiring Connex's assets, including its Linux development team, Quantum has incorporated a Linux-based operating system into its new Guardian 14000 midrange network-attached storage (NAS) server.

Quantum credits Linux with enabling Guardian to compete head-on with Microsoft Windows-based NAS devices, which are rapidly gaining market share in low-end and midrange NAS environments (see "Windows grabs NAS market share," InfoStor, April 2002, p. 14). Guardian offers features such as snapshots and load balancing, as do Windows-based NAS servers.

Quantum officials also say that Linux offers a richer feature set and more flexibility than FreeBSD Unix, on which Quantum's proprietary NAS operating system is based. Quantum will continue to use the FreeBSD-based software in its Snap Server product line.

"You get some enterprise-class features at a fraction of the cost," claims Steve Rogers, vice president of marketing at Quantum's storage solutions group. "Because it's a Linux platform, it's modular and we're able to add value by putting application-specific solutions on top of it."

Since Linux is a journaling file system, it is more robust and scalable than BSD, according to Quantum. The 14000's Linux-based operating system also supports Active Directory Service, which FreeBSD does not fully support. Other features that Linux enables—which FreeBSD does not—include snapshot technology and support for remote push agents for backup products from Computer Associates, Legato, and Veritas.

The 14000 includes 12 hot-swap IDE drives for 1.4TB of capacity and support for RAID 0, 1, and 5 in a 3U rack-mount configuration. It includes dual Gigabit Ethernet ports for load balancing and fail-over capabilities, and Java-based code for replication.

Quantum also added an integrated SCSI port that was not available on its Snap Server 12000—the company's first NAS device geared toward the midrange segment. The 14000, to be priced from $24,900, will be available this summer.

Rogers believes the NAS market will sustain both Linux and Windows-based devices, but he contends that Linux-based servers have advantages. For example, he claims Linux will allow Quantum to add applications and functionality to its products quickly, either by internal development or by working with the open-source developer community. In contrast, Windows-based NAS developers have to wait for Microsoft to add features, says Rogers.

Quantum recently integrated Snap Appliances into its Storage Solutions Group, which will carry two NAS product lines: midrange devices such as the 14000, and entry-level and workgroup products comprising the Snap Server family.

This article was originally published on June 01, 2002