Quantum vmPRO adds LTFS tape support, DXi V-Series gains capacity

Quantum upgrades its vmPRO virtual machine backup appliance, supporting 24 TB of pre-deduped data and LTFS tape in a virtual appliance.

Quantum today launched a larger capacity version of its virtual DXi dedupe backup appliance and added support for LTFS tape to the vmPRO virtual machine backup software.

The DXi V4000 supports 24 TB of usable capacity before dedupe in a virtual backup appliance. The DXi V1000, which launched a year ago as the inaugural DXi virtual appliance, supports 2 TB of pre-deduped data.

Quantum rolled out vmPRO for backing up virtual machines (VMs) a year ago after acquiring the technology from startup Pancetera. The DXi V-Series appliances are also used with Quantum's Q-Cloud cloud backup and disaster recovery service, sold by Quantum and service provider partners.

Enterprise Strategy Group Senior Analyst Jason Buffington said the V4000 stands out for its 24 TB capacity.

"Anybody else doing a virtualization appliance caps out at around 2 TB pre-deduped, maybe 4 TB," he said. "This is a 24 TB virtual appliance. That's significant, especially for service providers who can stand up 24 TB of pre-deduped storage on a virtual appliance and not have to go out and buy a physical Data Domain or another big metal array."

Customers can now use vmPRO with a Quantum Scalar Linear Tape File System (LTFS) appliance. They can either backup to a DXi network-attached storage (NAS) disk appliance first, or move it directly to tape. Casey Burns, a senior product marketing manager at Quantum, said he expects most customers protecting VMs to go to disk first.

The LTFS appliance sits in front of tape and lets customers search for specific files. It appears as a share on the network with each physical tape appearing as a folder. Customers can view the tapes on the network as NAS shares, which is why some call LTFS "tape NAS."

Burns said vmPRO's LTFS capability is only certified with Quantum's Scalar appliances, but he expects it to work with any other LTFS box.

"People always ask us, 'Can you protect my virtualized data to tape," Burns said. "Now we can."

Buffington said it's no coincidence that Quantum added tape support for vmPRO the same week that Veeam added native tape support for its Backup & Replication VM backup app. Tape vendors hope LTFS, which is available with LTO-5 and LTO-6 technology, can extend the life of tape, although it hasn't yet caught on outside of the media and entertainment industry.

"Tape's not going anywhere," Buffington said. "Disk is the right tier for recovery. But as a long-term medium, tape still has its place. I like the idea of LTFS tapes because they are readily available and you can access them as a storage volume.

"When people wanted something faster than tape but didn't know how to use disk yet they came out with virtual tape libraries that treat disk as tape. LTFS reverses that. You have a tape job that looks like disk. And this tape is faster, more reliable, and the fact that it's mountable gives it more use cases."

The company's vmPRO 3.1 also added the ability to run multiple backup jobs simultaneously and added support for the VMware vSphere Hot Add feature, which lets an administrator increase the random access memory (RAM) capacity of a running VM without downtime.

Quantum also now allows customers to manage multiple vmPRO appliances through a master server. Previously, each virtual appliance had to be managed separately.

Dave Simpson, senior analyst for 451 Research, said he expected Quantum to sell vmPRO only as a companion to DXi, but the vendor is looking to challenge as a standalone VM protection application. That puts it in direct competition with all the mainstream backup apps looking to tackle the VM market, as well as VM-only backup applications from Veeam Software, Dell and PHD Virtual.

"That will be a tough thing for Quantum to do," he said. "The advantage they have is they do have a large installed base [mainly from tape]. So they have a leg up on some other guys. It gives them a good chance to become a player in VM backup, but there aren't too many more competitive markets in storage right now."

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