Quantum Peers Into Crystal Ball

Quantum sees a future filled with 10-terabyte tape cartridges — as big as today’s largest libraries — and multi-terabyte storage devices for less than $1,000, or just pennies a gigabyte.

Those were just some of the visions the company shared this week as it outlined its 10-year DLTtape roadmap. Not the least among its goals is keeping on top of rival formats like LTO and DDS.

“There’s a lot of technology headroom in tape that disk doesn’t have.”

—Steve Berens, Quantum’s Storage Devices Business Unit

“Customer needs are growing at an astronomical rate,” says Steve Berens, director of product marketing and strategy for Quantum’s Storage Devices Business Unit. “We believe we can meet them better than anyone.”

The company plans to double DLT performance and capacity every 18-24 months over the next decade, with speeds to match all network capabilities, to facilitate the transition from storage networking to information lifecycle management and object-based storage, Berens says.

“Customers would like to automate choices,” he told Enterprise Storage Forum. “The ultimate goal is to move it from place to place and not have it looked at by a human.”

Berens says tape is well-positioned for the future because there’s still a lot of technology that can be packed into it. “There’s a lot of technology headroom in tape that disk doesn’t have.” he says.

Quantum plans two generations of backward-read capability for each of its two tape drive product lines. The new DLT-S line, formerly SDLT, is targeted at “capacity for performance,” with the goal of delivering more than 10 terabytes per cartridge. The new DLT-V line, formerly DLT VS, aims for “capacity for value,” with the ultimate goal of producing multi-terabyte devices for less than $1,000.

“It’s no secret the landscape of the storage market is changing, with the onset of disk-based technologies and companies implementing tiered storage strategies for data protection,” says Bob Abraham, president of Freeman Reports. “Nonetheless, tape will continue to play a pivotal role in companies’ backup, recovery and archive strategies. Quantum’s DLTtape roadmap showcases the company’s commitment to addressing customers’ high-capacity requirements by providing tape technologies that meet their needs for an affordable, flexible and high-performing storage solution today and into the future.”

Quantum’s planned innovations include intelligent servo tracking for better data; gentle guiding for long media life and faster tape speeds; high-bandwidth actuators for faster response to small variations in magnetic tracks; error avoidance and tolerance; and data decoding using a Verterbi Trellis pattern recognition algorithm for better retrieval and improved density.

Quantum also says its will continue to improve manageability and compliance capabilities, with its DLTSage management architecture and DLTIce WORM (write once, read many) archive functionality a standard feature for both product lines.

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Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for Time.com, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.

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