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Quantum's survived, now seesk to thrive

When EMC’s Data Domain took the first step towards global deduplication with its Global Deduplication Array (GDA) last month, it left Quantum as the only major disk data deduplication backup target lacking the ability to cluster nodes. And Quantum isn’t saying much about when and if that capability is coming.

During Quantum’s earnings call Thursday evening, CEO Rick Belluzzo said there would be further enhancements to the company’s deduplication in the wake of a rollout of midrange and SMB DXi disk systems over the past six months. When I spoke to Belluzzo after the call he stopped short of addressing global dedupe, except to say Quantum won’t be following Data Domain’s path. Quantum apparently sees its StorNext file system as a piece of its strategy to scale its backup targets.

“We will be saying more about our roadmap over time,” Belluzzo said. “We also have the StorNext platform to build from. I would expect our strategy to differ from Data Domain in terms of their approach to global deduplication. We have a scalable platform in StorNext, and it’s a better platform to deliver a scalable solution. And Data Domain is still pretty limited [for global deduplication].”

Data Domain’s GDA clusters two nodes at this stage, and requires Symantec’s OpenStorage (OST) API and either Symantec NetBackup or Backup Exec to control the placement of data across multiple controllers.

Analyst Greg Schulz of StorageIO says customers who need global dedupe are mostly large enterprises who may already be using Quantum tape libraries and may be willing to wait for the global dedupe.

“Quantum will have to evolve to global dedupe, it’s part of scaling,” he said. “If you have hundreds of terabytes to petabytes of data, you need more robust deduplication going forward. Quantum has more time because people in that category are still using tape. Quantum has to get there, but it can walk to that market and get it right opposed to others who have to sprint there.”

With or without global dedupe, Belluzzo says he expects Quantum to make a big push in disk backup this year, and it has a long way to go to make up ground on Data Domain. Quantum reported $22.9 million of revenue from its disk (DXi dedupe platform) and software (StorNext) last quarter, down from $24.2 million in the same quarter last year.

“It is still very early in the evolution of this technology,” he said. “We believe the deduplication market is growing rapidly. There have been reports on how many people have implemented it and it’s a very low amount. So we believe that the market definitely supports pretty rapid growth, and to be frank, our base is pretty small and we really feel like that we have to be focused on that kind of rapid growth.”

After losing its OEM relationship with EMC following EMC’s acquisition of Data Domain last summer, Quantum has been building up its own channel for branded products. “It’s been a year of working through transitions to strengthen the company,” Belluzzo said. Now he says Quantum is prepared to grow.

Quantum executives say the new dedupe OEM partner they announced in January – believed to be Fujitsu – is shipping product with DXi software but there are no new OEM deals imminent as the vendor concentrates on its branded products.

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