I was fairly certain I knew what an upcoming chat with Quantum would focus on. I was expecting to hear more about SDLT (super digital linear tape), the next generation of their high-end tape that, according to previous conversations, the company should release sometime this year.
Well, I was wrong. Ted Oade, director of automation product management at Quantum’s Storage Systems division, had new tape libraries -- not just new tape -- in mind. Perhaps the recent acquisition of Certance, a company that Quantum consumed like a starving gourmet savoring a tasty Maine lobster, played a role in pushing back the launch of the SDLT tape.
I'll admit that I'm speculating here because the DLT road map doesn't help with dates, but I shouldn't be too far off. After all, LTO (linear tape open) 3 was released not long ago; Quantum may already have its hands full incorporating that device into its product line and smoothing any potential friction with the next generation of SDLT.
I don't think we should worry. Even if Quantum postpones shipping the new DLT, other new tapes will keep us storage mavens busy. For example, Sony's SAIT-2 (super advanced intelligent tape) and Exabyte's SMB-friendly VXA-3 are both expected to make appearances before year's end.
I haven't heard from Sony yet (here's a refresher on the previous SAIT model), but judging from what I learned during a conversation with Kelly Beavers, a co-founder of Exabyte and co-developer of the VXA technology, VXA-3 drives will begin shipping soon.
As for Quantum, the company is launching three new libraries and a new autoloader, a combination that will, in time, replace Quantum's existing portfolio for entry-level and mid-tier customers.
If you are surprised to see Quantum making some significant bets on tape, a technology that, according to some pundits, is passé, consider this eye-opening comment from Oade: "End-users are telling us that they are going to spend more on tape." According to Oade, several research studies are forecasting an increase -- in the 25 to 40 percent range -- in tape spending. That's plenty high enough to have tape vendors drooling.
Quantum's three new libraries -- PX502, 506, and 508 -- come in configurations varying from one drive and 32 slots for the smaller 4U 502 model, to 10 drives and 200 slots of the largest 18U 508 model. All three models can mount SDLT 600, LTO-2, or LTO-3 tapes and have SCSI and FC connectivity.
Quantum is deploying some new technologies (the result of its R&D dollars, Oade points out) with the PX series, which makes it possible to build more compact libraries with larger capacity, all while delivering better performance at a lower price per gigabyte than previous models. A quick eyeball comparison of the older M1500 (which maxed out at two drives and 25 slots), and the PX502 seems to support at least part of that claim.