As a consultant, I frequently had difficulty sizing a tape library for my clients. They hired me to clean up their backup system, which meant their backup system was broken--frequently so broken that I couldn’t just run reports from the backup system to see how much data was being backed up each night because good nightly backups weren’t running. Without knowing how much data was going to be backed up, I had to guess how big a tape library the client needed. I was very happy when Quantum came out with the M series of modular libraries and I could add more slots and/or drives to an existing library if I had guessed wrong.
As I started using deduplicating disk targets, I found I once again had to choose among scale-up systems from Quantum, Data Domain and the like that could scale from 2.5 Tbytes to 5 Tbytes or a more expensive system that could scale from 5 Tbytes to 10 Tbytes of usable space. It was just too easy to guess wrong or outgrow a system before the end of its useful life. This created a market opportunity for scale-out vendors like Exagrid that could scale 10-to-1 or more by adding nodes. The DXi6700 can scale from 8 Gbytes to 80 Gbytes of usable RAID 6 disk space, making it a safe bet for a wide swath of the midmarket.
Quantum also made buying a DXI6700 easy by throwing all the feature licenses into the new $58,000 price. The only choice you have to make is between the DXi6701 with six Gbit Ethernet ports or the 6702 with two Gbit and two 10 Gbit ports. If you change your mind, Quantum will send a nice tech to upgrade your 6701 to a 6702 by pulling the quad Ethernet card and plugging in a 10 Gbit card.
Every DXi6700 includes access as a virtual tape library (VTL) over Fibre Channel and over Ethernet via CIFS/NFS or Symantec OST, as well as replication, direct export to tape and Quantum’s DXi Accent, which shifts some of the deduplication work to the media server. DXi Accent is a driver that installs in a media server that breaks data into blocks using Quantum’s patented algorithm and calculates the hashes for each block. Like a remote DXi replicating to a corporate data center, it then sends the hash list to the DXi appliance. The DXi sends back the list of hashes that represent blocks of data it hasn't seen before, and the system running Accent sends the new data blocks, which are added to the blockstore.
The whole process, which is of course derived from Quantum’s replication protocols, vastly cuts down on the amount of data sent to the appliance and therefore the network bandwidth needed. Quantum has even tuned Accent so you can use it over a high latency WAN link to support a remote or branch office with a media server but no DXi appliance. Since the little DXi4510 goes for about $10,000, if I could get comparable performance from DXi Accent and an 8 Tbyte Iomega iX4 for $2,000, I could save some real coin.
I’d love to get a DXi6700 in the lab and run DXi Accent through its paces. If everything works as well as Quantum tells me it does, the DXi6700 might rise to the top of my short list.
At the time of publication, SolidFire was not a client of nor had a business relationship with Howard Marks.