"The value of Quantum is 65 percent up since the acquisition," says Quantum's European sales director Steve Mackey. That's his way of putting the recent quarterly results in context. Adding ADIC to Quantum's operation was clearly a good idea. But that was in the past. What is going on at Quantum now?

Encryption

LTO4 encrypting drives are here and the devices have to get encryption keys from somewhere. The idea of selling another added value, storage-related software always appeals to storage hardware makers. So Quantum has announced EKM, its Encryption Key Manager, which provides a central key management resource. Initially it will support the Scalar 500 and i2000 libraries.

Mackey said: "We're encrypting data being transmitted between DXI de-duplicating devices. Only data transmissions are encrypted, not data stored on the DXI's disks. Also you can optionally turn encryption on or off."

EKM will support the IEEE 1619.3 standard and Quantum is working with IEEE. The standard defines a protocol to be used for encryption key management systems to talk to encrypting devices. But EKM and 1610.3 won't cover all the marketing bases.

Mackey explained Quantum's approach: "EKM is a mid-range offering. For small businesses library-based encryption will probably be the chosen method (of securing data). At the high-end FIPS 140-2 compliance is needed."

He thinks that: "We'll start to see key management being a feature of backup products from now on. TSM and Yosemite have it today. Others will probably follow suit."

De-dupe progress

How's de-dupe going for Quantum? Mackey said: "It's early days." Quantum is suing Riverbed for the same IP infringement that it went after Data Domain with. "Yes, Data Domain and us now have a cross-licensing agreement. The patent in question is something fundamental to de-duplication. We have several patents around variable block length de-duplication. In fact we have licensing deals with other vendors."

That's interesting. It implies that Riverbed is using de-duplication techniques to shrink the data it has to pump through its wide area file services (WAFS) pipes. That's not surprising. DE-dupe vendors often supply replication and the advantages of replicating de-duped, meaning shrunk, data are well known in network bandwidth terms.

Secondly, it says that other post-processing de-duplication vendors as well as Data Domain are paying royalties to Quantum for intellectual property (IP) in their de-dupe products. Who could this be? Avamar and Sepaton perhaps?

Quantum's StorNext SAN-based file system has had a de-duped data tier added to it. This means that data tiers could range from fast FC disk, secondary SATA disk, de-duped disk and on to tape. StorNext is used on the DXi products as a high-performance filesystem. StorNext is OEM'd through companies specialising in rich media products. It's also resold through HP.

LTO5

Quantum has a joint development agreement (JDA) with HP for the next generation of LTO tape, LTO5 (1.6TB raw capacity). There are three companies in the LTO consortium: IBM, HP, and Quantum. The point of the JDA is to save money. Mackey suggested that developing an LTO5 drive could cost $30 million. By pooling their efforts HP and Quantum will share that cost and save $15 million each. They can then spend that $15 million on something else to drive their businesses forward, money that will be denied to IBM because it has to spend the full $30 million.

What is Quantum now? It used to be a data protection company. Mackey says it is "a high value storage company." We can see how the company could feel it is making a lot of progress. This previously DLT-centric tape automation company has embraced LTO with conviction, through buying Certance, accepting LTO's dominance and signing the JDA with HP, as well as taking advantage of LTO4 drive encryption. It is well-positioned in the de-dupe space and set to profit from royalty revenue streams there as well as selling its own de-dupe products.

If Belluzzo can get his company cranking out profits on top of this activity, Quantum shareholders and customers should become happy people.