Quantum has introduced a disk storage appliance aimed at enterprise customers and other storage vendors.

The DXi7500 is an integrated data deduplication, disk backup and tape archiving device, also called a virtual tape library (VTL), that is a complement to the smaller DXi3500 and DXi5500 models it introduced in December 2006. The DXi7500 offers up to 240 Tbyte of disk storage capacity, versus 4.2 Tbyte and 11 Tbyte for the 3500 and 5500, respectively. A terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes of data.

The new model also has a healthy appetite for data, deduplicating and saving it to disk at the rate of 8 Tbyte per hour.

The DXi7500 would serve an enterprise by taking data already deduplicated by the smaller DX appliances at remote offices of a company and deduplicating it further, said Mike Sparkes, product manager for disk systems at Quantum. Deduplication is the software-based process of searching through data and eliminating multiple copies of files so that less data needs to be saved to disk storage.

The Quantum system also creates a backup tape copy of that data, which is stored for archiving purposes. The system eliminates the need for tape backup at remote locations, which can be difficult for limited staffs there to manage.

"Suddenly, you get to retain two or three months of backup data instead of two or three days," said Sparkes. "Instead of just being a buffer to tape, which VTLs have usually been, it becomes more of a permanent repository of backup data."

The DXi7500 also gives enterprise storage managers the option of using either the "in-line" or "post-process" approach to saving to disk. With the "in-line" approach, data is transferred from a production server to the disk storage appliance for deduplication, but that is a time-consuming process that ties up the server, preventing it from doing more computing. The "post-process" approach moves data off the server quickly so the server can get back to work, but requires additional capacity in the storage appliance to hold all that data while it deduplicates it.

Giving storage administrators a choice is welcome, said Robert Amatruda, research manager at IDC. "What they are doing is to provide some flexibility for the customers."

Virtual tape library technology is a nascent market, Amatruda said. IDC forecasts market revenue to grow to $4.1 billion by 2011 and for the amount of data stored in VTL systems to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 47.4 percent over the same period.

Quantum can leverage the DXi7500 to strengthen existing ties with OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), such as Hewlett-Packard Co., Sun Microsystems Inc. and others, said Greg Schulz, founder of Storage I/O Group, an industry research and consulting firm.

"Quantum sells a turnkey solution, which means for an OEM that they can just put their logo on it, rebadge it and people will buy it knowing it's a Quantum-based product," said Schulz.