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EMC Bets on Quantum’s Deduplication Approach; All Quantum Needs to Do Now is Execute

After months of speculation and “confirmed rumors”, this week Quantum itself formally confirmed and disclosed that EMC was the “major OEM” with which it had entered into an agreement back in January. At that time, Quantum disclosed in an SEC 8-K filing that a “major OEM would license Quantum’s data deduplication and replication enterprise software to deliver its own solution” but that “Quantum could not provide any further details on the filing at that time.”

Now that this agreement is out in the open, the real question becomes what does Quantum hope to gain from this relationship? On the surface, it appears this agreement puts EMC and Quantum at loggerheads in the rapidly growing space of deduplication. While EMC and Quantum will use different hardware, the software that drives their respective disk systems will be based on Quantum’s technology. In this respect, much of the functionality found in the software will be the same, including the policy-based deduplication I detailed in an earlier blog, though Quantum is putting more emphasis on features such as direct tape creation given its continued focus on integration of disk and tape resources within the enterprise.

The stage for this announcement was actually set some time ago. Quantum’s current relationship with EMC was cultivated through a long-standing relationship in which EMC would resell ADIC tape libraries. It was this channel collaboration which helped to lay the groundwork for this week’s deduplication announcement.

EMC’s adoption of Quantum’s deduplication software first and foremost validates Quantum’s deduplication technology and lends credibility to it longer term. While Quantum believes that the deduplication software behind its DXi platform is solid, on a larger scale the company has struggled somewhat to gain traction and mindshare in the deduplication space. So having EMC put Quantum’s deduplication software through its paces against other competitors and then select it provides Quantum with some needed validation around its deduplication approach.

Partnering with EMC also should help Quantum prosper over the long haul. Deduplication is hot right now and, in many respects, a “green field” opportunity (it is estimated that less than 10% of businesses have implemented some form of disk-based backup with deduplication). But Quantum questions whether vendors that rely strictly on deduplication can continue to meet customers’ needs longer term.

Quantum does not see deduplication becoming a standard, per se, as there will always be some different technology approaches that will work better in certain customer environments. However customers want some assurance that the deduplication technology they select will be well-supported into the future. EMC offering Quantum’s deduplication technology should help reassure customers that Quantum’s form of deduplication will achieve broad market acceptance now and into the future.

In terms of competing against EMC in customer accounts, Quantum does not necessarily foresee that as an issue either. Quantum does not anticipate crossing paths on a regular basis with EMC when selling these systems and, in those circumstances when it does occur, they will work that out on a case-by-case basis. Quantum makes the point that if EMC and Quantum had anticipated fighting tooth and nail in the general market place, this deal probably never would have happened. So the fact that they both signed off on this agreement indicates their mutual desire to work together.

The new relationship, or maybe better termed “renewed” relationship, between EMC and Quantum gives Quantum’s deduplication technology the immediate credibility that it was seeking. EMC is one of the giants, if not “THE” giant in disk-based storage systems and incorporating Quantum’s deduplication into its systems gives EMC a deduplication software platform that it can use to scale across the enterprise. By signing this agreement, EMC has made a significant bet on Quantum’s deduplication approach and indicates that it believes that Quantum has its deduplication house in order. Now all Quantum needs to do is execute.


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