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Quantum’s balancing act

Of all the storage companies competing to sell data deduplication, Quantum is unique. That’s because it is primarily a tape vendor and data deduplication was developed to replace tape.

Look at some the other vendors involved in what Data Domain CEO Frank Slootman calls a “land grab” for deduplication customers. Domain, Sepaton, Diligent Technologies and FalconStor sell virtual tape  libraries (VTLs), EMC and Network Appliance sell massive  disk arrays, and Riverbed sells WAN optimization. Their sales forces wouldn’t know LTO-4 tape from masking tape.

Then there is Quantum, which after gobbling up rival ADIC last year will sell close to $1 billion worth of tape products this year. Quantum CEO Rick Belluzzo isn’t buying into the “tape is dead” line you hear from most de-duplication vendors.

 “Tape will continue to have an important role,” he said. “Very few customers are looking to go tapeless.”

Quantum won’t be the only tape vendor selling deduplication devices for long. Overland Storage will come out with its deduplication appliance soon. Still, most deduplication vendors disagree with Belluzzo about the long-term future of tape. Sepaton spelled backward is “no tapes,” and the company was built on the premise that tape is going away. So was Data Domain, and Slootman says when Data Domain sells appliances, “We replace tape in almost every instance.”

Belluzzo said that’s because Data Domain sells to remote office and midsized companies. Quantum’s strategy is to push into the enterprise, with the DXi7500 enterprise system coming in a few months to go with Quantum tape libraries. He says it doesn’t have to be one or the other in large shops.

“I hear our competitors say, ‘It’s clear that tape is dead.’ That has no credibility with customers,” Belluzzo said. “We still sell tape. We see tape replacement along the edge, where they collect data and replicate it to the data center. But tape plays a critical role in centralized data centers and consolidated SAN backup schemes. The whole story is, in midsized and enterprise data centers, people are buying disk and tape together.”

Quantum claims 120 customers for its DXi de-duplication appliances over the last six months. Market leader Data Domain has about 400 over that same period.

Another area where Quantum does a balancing act is with its de-duplication patent. With deduplication’s popularity rising and other vendors looking to get into the act, Quantum could license its technology and let others sell it. Data Domain paid a $5.4 million royalty for the patent earlier this year. And Quantum is suing Riverbed for patent infringement.

Belluzzo said Quantum is a product company, so licensing its technology takes a back seat. He won’t rule it out, though.

“It’s always a balance you face: do you hold onto it and let the market work around your, or do you exploit it for commercial purposes and let the market come to you?” he said. “We’re trying to balance that now.”

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Nice PR placement, but it's just not true. Tape is dead, and you're fighting a rearguard action.
the analogy you can use is CDs and iPods. CDs still exist but they will go away sooner or later. Same with tape. It's just not efficient compared to leveraging SANs and WAN acceleration. Not if, just a matter of when. The consolidation movement is really only in the early stages so tape will be around for a while but its significance is dropping off quickly. Justin Lofton Systems Engineer Tredent Data Systems, Inc.
Hey, Dave. Are you sure about your comments about Data Domain paying to use Quantum's dedupe technology? Data Domain tells me that they have a cross licensing agreement with Quantum where both organizations have access to each other's patent. If it is the same dedupe technology, then why does Data Domain dominate every bake off against Quantum in our region? If the technology was the same wouldn't the results reflect that? Does anyone else have the same experience?
Droopy: I don't know how much the Quantum patent figures into Data Domain's products, but Data Domain disclosed when it completed its IPO that it issues Quantum 390,000 shares of its stock as part of the cross-licensing agreement. See:,289142,sid5_gci1249823,00.html
Snoopy I am guessing you are either a Data Domain employee or reseller. As of Dec 2007 we were DDs largest reseller in the Southeast US, please take this to the bank, Quantum is just warming up. Why you ask grasshopper, it is all about the connectivity, brand name, and they know where each and every LTO and DLT tape drive exists so to replace with a D2D or D2D2T solution. Other not so favs going for DD, is that their largest national reseller SANZ, may they rest in pieces is gone, and so are we a several other tier one resellers, DD has no OEM accounts, and is priced out of this world since the 7500 has arrived. Also keep an eye on Exagrip and Sepaton. Has for Justin's remarks he would of been closer to the mark had he used 8 track rather then CDs. So you think tape is dead, watch LTO4 sales in 2008......biggest year yet. Think Green!