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Quantum unveils ActiveScale on-prem archiving service

Quantum's new product combines ActiveScale object storage and Quantum tape to deploy a petabyte-scale cold storage environment within customers' on-prem data centers.

Quantum Corp. is offering to put Amazon S3 Glacier-like storage in customers' data centers.

This week, Quantum introduced ActiveScale Cold Storage, a new storage-as-a-service (STaaS) offering that combines its tape technology with the ActiveScale object storage platform, technology Quantum acquired in early 2020. Customers will be able to store both active and cold data in ActiveScale Cold Storage and set policies to move data between the two tiers. Quantum will charge $0.015 per GB, per month for active data and $0.003 per GB, per month for cold data with this service. The vendor claims this can translate to 80% savings compared to deploying an in-house disk-based NAS or object storage system and 30% savings over cold storage services from public cloud offerings such as Amazon S3 Glacier and Azure Blob's Archive tier.

Unlike public cloud storage, Quantum ActiveScale Cold Storage deploys hardware to customers' locations, whether it's a primary data center, a colocation facility or multiple edge offices, enabling customers to access their data without incurring any fees. This also lets customers avoid any potential compliance or data sovereignty issues, as their data never leaves their property.

Quantum will also launch Object Storage Services, a fully managed STaaS offering for delivering private and hybrid cloud storage for active and archive data. Quantum ActiveScale Cold Storage will be delivered through Object Storage Services, which consists of Quantum's AIOps software -- Cloud-Based Analytics (CBA) -- and the MyQuantum customer portal. CBA monitors and captures telemetry data from multiple Quantum customers to power its predictive analytics, which it uses to anticipate system maintenance and reduce downtime. Customers can access CBA's data through MyQuantum to monitor their own environments.

Screenshot of Quantum Cloud-Based Analytics
Customers can view Quantum Cloud-Based Analytics through MyQuantum.

Quantum ActiveScale Cold Storage and Object Storage Services are expected to become generally available by the end of January 2022.

Data sets are growing, and customers need ways to cost-effectively store it all, said Eric Bassier, senior director of products at Quantum, citing data from IDC's "Data Deluge: Why Every Enterprise Needs a Cold Storage Strategy" report. Most enterprise data is cold and inactive, according to the report, but it still costs money and takes up storage capacity somewhere.

The public cloud offers cold storage services at a low cost-per-gigabyte, but this is offset by egress fees for when customers want their data back, Bassier said. Quantum ActiveScale Cold Storage avoids egress charges by putting the same type of cold storage customers would get from a cloud provider directly into their data centers. Plus, customers are free to pull their data for analytics or other IT initiatives as frequently as they want, he said.

"We are bringing hyperscale cold storage architecture to the enterprise," Bassier said.

Tape is a four-letter word

Quantum's acquisition of ActiveScale from Western Digital put the vendor in a unique position to deliver ActiveScale Cold Storage, said Andrew Smith, an IDC research manager. Few storage vendors have both tape expertise and an object storage platform, although he said he wouldn't be surprised if Spectra Logic or another tape vendor is investigating how to bring the same cold storage that hyperscalers use to enterprise data centers.

They are likely motivated by something IDC concluded in its investigation of the cold storage market: All public cloud providers are using tape without publicly disclosing it, Smith said. He said no organization could hold as much cold data as AWS or Azure does without tape -- any other storage medium would represent significant and unsustainable storage costs. Therefore, it is not a stretch to believe tape vendors have already built tape-based storage architecture for hyperscalers, Smith said, and it wouldn't be hard for them to do the same for enterprise customers.

The wisdom behind Quantum selling ActiveScale Cold Storage as a service is twofold, Smith said. First, tape is a "four-letter word" among customers, who have immediate impressions that the technology is either outdated or only used for off-site, air-gapped storage. Second, there's a skills gap with tape, and organizations are unlikely to have staff experienced with the medium. Delivering ActiveScale Cold Storage as a managed service through Quantum enables customers to reap the benefits of tape storage without having to interact with it.

Who has the expertise anymore to manage tape?
Andrew SmithResearch manager, IDC

"The efficiency in tape has allowed cold storage to be increasingly accessible and [has] driven the dollar-per-gigabyte into the dirt," Smith said. "But who has the expertise anymore to manage tape?"

The cold storage market appears to be trending toward managed service offerings more than products, according to Smith, who concluded this is an area where enterprises are especially looking to offload their infrastructure burden. The latest IDC research found enterprises' storage capacity needs are growing 30% to 40% annually, but their budgets aren't, Smith said.

"There's a growing gap between storage capacity and IT storage budgets," Smith said. "The reality is you're going to have to do more with less."

Johnny Yu covers enterprise data protection news for TechTarget's Storage sites SearchDataBackup and SearchDisasterRecovery. Before joining TechTarget in June 2018, he wrote for USA Today's consumer product review site Reviewed.com.

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