Quantum merger covers backup bases

Backup giant Quantum is now an even greater force in the tape drive business, offering a broad selection of products that maintain levels of compatibility with previous generations of its DLTtape media.

The recent fielding of more entry-level and workstation products is actually a return trip for Quantum, which recently completed its acquisition of Benchmark Storage Innovations Inc. Benchmark had been licensing the lower-end DLT1 technology from Quantum, which was focusing on its highly successful--and much higher-end--Super DLTtape technology. Meanwhile, Benchmark had quickly fielded enhanced DLT products to satisfy what turned out to be a ravenous entry-level server and workstation market. Before long, Quantum was buying DLT1 drives from Benchmark to satisfy steady demand from its own customers.

Mergers are often the result of a strong company assimilating one that is failing. In this case, each party represents a powerful presence in its market segment. And the combined entity fields a comprehensive line of cutting-edge business backup products providing capacities per tape cartridge from 80GB to 320GB.

Updates Coming

The products acquired from Benchmark (now known as Value DLTtape) were developed with an eye to maintaining varying levels of compatibility with previous generations of DLT media. The Super DLTtape drives also maintain read compatibility with the media used in the Value DLTtape drives.

Both current SDLT models share a common Super DLTtape media: The higher-end model has the capability to store either 220GB or 320GB on the tape. Quantum says 98 percent of Fortune 500 companies use its DLTtape products.

The current lineup of products includes DLT VS80, DLT VS160, SDLT 220, and SDLT 320 drives (along with the legacy DLT 8000 drive). The cartridges used in these drives provide capacities for typically compressed data of 80GB (40GB native), 160GB (80GB native), 220GB (110GB native), and 320GB (160GB native), respectively.

But that's not the end of the line for Quantum. The company promises the release of an SDLT 600 drive later this year that will take the capacity for typically compressed files up to an impressive 600GB per cartridge. The new drive is projected to support a maximum transfer rate of 64MB per second, double that of the SDLT 320 drive. By sometime in 2006, according to Quantum, the top model in the Value DLTtape line will have reached 600GB per cartridge, and the most advanced Super DLTtape product will store up to 2400GB per cartridge.