ADIC Adds Clariion to Disks

Launches new version of disk-based backup, using EMC's disk arrays

July 20, 2004

3 Min Read
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While much was made last month when EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) said it would resell Advanced Digital Information Corp. (Nasdaq: ADIC) tape libraries, the other part of the deal went mostly unnoticed.

That part? ADIC would resell EMC Clariion disk arrays in its Pathlight VX disk backup appliance (see EMC to Resell ADIC Tape and StorageTek Lauds EMC-ADIC Deal ).

ADIC was seen as a big winner for landing the tape library deal, but it also hopes to cash in on the Clariion reseller end as well by using EMCs successful disk array to jumpstart its own sluggish disk backup sales.

ADIC today announced an upgraded version of the Pathlight VX first launched in December (see ADIC Upgrades Pathlight, ADIC Sticks In Some Disk, ADIC Whips Out Big Disk, and ADIC Slips a Disk into Backup). The Pathlight appliance now backs up data first to EMC Clariion ATA disks, and then offloads the data to an ADIC tape library.

By replacing an array from Adaptec Inc. (Nasdaq: ADPT) with Clariion disks, ADIC widened the range of capacity it offers. The appliance now scales from 3.8 Tbytes to 46.8 Tbytes as opposed to its previous range of 10 Tbytes to 40 Tbytes. ADIC hasn’t released complete pricing information, but a Pathlight VX with 14.4 Tbytes, dual controllers, and two years of same-day on-site service is $217,258.ADIC also added data management features such as the ability to create redundant backups in the tape library so customers have two versions of each copy, dual controller RAID options, and auto failover.

ADIC execs hope customers will be more likely to trust disk backup from a tape vendor -- now that the disk in question is already widely accepted.

When the EMC deal was announced last month, ADIC CEO Peter van Oppen said ADIC approached EMC about reselling Clariion because disk-to-disk-to-tape (DDT) backup "introduces uncertainty to a customer," and "one way to reduce customer uncertainty is to deliver an industry standard technology." Van Oppen has said he expects Pathlight revenues to take off in the second half of the year, but that's not a given in the face of tough competition.

ADIC takes a tape emulation approach to disk backup -- meaning the software and process work as if the backup is going onto tape. The field is crowded. Tape vendors Overland Storage Inc. (Nasdaq: OVRL) and Quantum Corp. (NYSE: DSS), and startups Alacritus Software Inc., Diligent Technologies Corp., Neartek Inc., and Sepaton Inc. also use tape emulation. EMC even has a disk-backup product that uses emulation from FalconStor Software Inc. (Nasdaq: FALC). (See Overland Drives Disk Harder, Quantum Upgrades Disk-Backup System, Alacritus Debuts Continuous Backup, Diligent Technologies, New Neartek CEO Looks Stateside, Sepaton's Got Virtual Tape, and EMC and HP Spin Disk).

One analyst says ADIC’s advantage is it streamlines the process of backing up to disk and archiving on tape, but it is a closed system for backup.“It’s a very tightly integrated package,” says Arun Taneja of the Taneja Group. “The negative is, you can’t use anybody else’s tape library. It’s a one-vendor product and all the goods and bads that come with it.”

For ADIC, one of the “goods” is that disk sales should help push its tape as well. But eventually, disk backup could erode tape sales. As tape vendors watch sales slow, they hope to get into position to cash in on disk backup (see ADIC Banks on Disk, StorageTek Sings Sad Song, and Overland Guides Under). No sane tape vendor will forecast the end of tape, but smart ones hope to capitalize on its replacement.

“Disk is a significant part of our strategy,” says Scott Hamilton, ADIC’s director for disk products. “Over time we see that utilization of tape will decrease. But the notion of tape being dead, that’s not going to happen any time soon.”

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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