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Fujitsu on brink of Quantum fusion breakthrough

Restore speed issues fail to impact DXi deduper OEM deal

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Fujitsu is understood to be OEM'ing Quantum's DXi deduplication technology across its recently enhanced product line. Conversely, EMC and Dell may have dropped DXi deduplication because of slow restore speed.

Quantum reported third fiscal 2010 quarter revenues of $182m, down 11 per cent from the year-ago quarter but up 4 per cent from the preceding quarter. However, the year ago quarter's loss of $329m was turned into a profit of $5m. It's a small profit, but it's Quantum's third successive profitable quarter and a humungous turnaround from a year ago. Revenues were down - because EMC had cancelled the DXi supply arrangement - but not dreadfully so, and Quantum has stabilised its tape automation business.

Indeed, Quantum CEO Rick Belluzzo said in the Quantum earnings call: "Next quarter we will release a new enterprise library that is an extension of our current Scalar i2000 and expands our market opportunity into larger enterprise segments."

Belluzzo also said that Quantum had also gained an OEM for its DXi deduplication software technology: "We are in the final stages of completing the details of our first OEM agreement. This relationship will expand our channel and technology reach." He wouldn't name the new OEM, however Fujitsu has just announced the addition of deduplication across its CS product line.

CS stands for CentricStor, the well-respected Fujitsu Siemens Computer virtual tape library (VTL) for both mainframe and open systems servers, which Fujitsu inherited when it bought out the Siemens interest in FSC. A new model - the CS800 - has been announced for the mid-market, joining the CS1000 to CS5000 enterprise products.

Fujitsu doesn't say much about the adopted deduplication technology's process details beyond this: "In-line adaptive operation up to 2.0 TB/h". That word "adaptive" points to Quantum's DXi technology. Here is a Quantum deduplication white paper (pdf) extract: "The adaptive method, which Quantum pioneered, de-duplicates during ingest but creates a disk buffer as well."

The only other main deduplication product doing inline deduplication is EMC's Data Domain. As a subsidiary of Fujitsu's main storage array competitor, EMC, Data Domain is unlikely to be Fujitsu's choice for deduplication software technology.

EMC has dropped the DXi from its offering since buying Data Domain and is swapping out DXi installations in its base for Data Domain product. Dell was going to supply DXi deduplication but, since EMC bought Data Domain, has not said anything about it. Indeed, it has adopted Symantec and Simpana deduplication products and is expected to take EMC's Data Domain products as part of an expanded EMC relationship.

Storage blogger and backup expert W Curtis Preston thinks Dell and EMC dropped DXi deduplication partly because of the slow restore speed of deduped data. He writes:

When Quantum first released the DXi, restores from the block pool were 90 per cent slower than restores from the cache. This limitation was confirmed by one of EMC's bloggers. Those same sources have verified that they have improved things quite a bit, but that there is still a 50 per cent performance hit when restoring from the block pool.

It may well be the case that Quantum has improved restore performance since then. Both Quantum and Fujitsu have been asked to confirm the existence of a DXi OEM relationship between them and to comment on the restore performance but weren't able to immediately respond.

Quantum also said it had expanded the geographical scope of its tape library reselling agreement with Fujitsu. It was previously a central Europe-based agreement, but is now world-wide, apart from Japan.

As well as introducing the new CS800 model, Fujitsu has also updated its Eternus storage array line. This introduces new management software, a DX90 model featuring storage-based replication capabilities - asynch or synchronous, and the availability of base units for use with 2.5-inch drives. Solid state drive (SSD) options have already been added.

The new Eternus SF Express management software enables the monitoring and management of multiple ETERNUS DX systems via just one centralised console. It also manages advanced copy functions for snapshots and clones.

Belluzzo's faith in DXi technology and his refusal to let Quantum be knocked by the EMC/Data Domain debacle have both been shown to be sound. The Fujitsu CS line of VTLs has a solid reputation which the addition of deduplication will enhance. If that restore speed hiccup is no longer in evidence, then things are looking up for both Quantum and Fujitsu. ®

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