Quantum mulls channel changes

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Data backup specialist Quantum is launching its DX30 disk-based backup appliance with a new channel certification scheme.

Meanwhile, Quantum is mulling changes to its distribution arrangements in the light of its Snap Appliance spin-off and recent acquisition of Benchmark storage.

Quantum product marketing manager Mike Sparkes said no decisions have been made with regard to the distribution strategy, but said Quantum hopes to have any new arrangements finalised by February or March 2003. "All of that is under discussion," he said.

He said the review would mainly affect the lower end of the market, where Quantum has no direct relationship with the resellers. In this arena, he said LAN 1 and ACA Pacific are Quantum's distribution partners.

For the new DX30 backup array, however, focus will initially be on Quantum's premier reseller partners at the top end of the market. "Basically, it involves us training up our existing resellers," he said. "Particularly in the early stages, it's important that every installation is a happy customer."

As the DX product range extends beyond the 3.8 terabyte debut product, more partners will be brought on board, he said.

Sparkes said Quantum's Academy partner certification program will be extended to cover the new DX30, beginning with the premier partners.

The DX30, he said, is designed to act like a holding tank, providing rapid access to backed-up data before it is moved onto tape for archiving. The rest of the network recognises it as an ATL P1000 tape drive to minimise interoperability problems.

The initial target for the product will be medium to large companies and government departments that already have tape solutions, but are looking for a faster way of backing up their data.

Sparkes said one Federal government department is already trialling the product, but declined to name the department involved.

"We don't expect a huge 'jump on the bandwagon' with this, but we do expect the growth rates to be greater than anything we do," he said.

Quoting IDC figures, Quantum believes the storage market in Australia will reach $2.4 billion in 2006, up from $1.8 billion in 2001. The worldwide "enhanced backup" market, which includes disk-based products like the DX30, will grow from $150 million in 2002 to between $800 and $900 million in 2005, according to Quantum.

Quantum has expanded its reseller channel in the past year, Sparkes said, adding around 100 mainly smaller resellers.

"We are pushing to be bigger in the entry level market," he said, saying that the growth of the overall storage market is bringing new customers to the lower end of town.

Sparkes said the decision by Sony and HP not to continue with 4mm tape cartridges limits the future of tape drives using them as a storage medium. The 4mm cartridges have "no future," he said, "so there is a whole lot of people out there looking for a replacement technology".

Nevertheless, Sparkes said tape still has a very strong future, particularly for archiving. "Tape drives are very cheap and can be stored in bunkers without power or air-conditioning," he said. Tape cartridge capacity is also expected to triple over the next three years, he added.

"People keep saying tape is going away, but no-one is arguing that seriously," Sparkes said.

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