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Quantum improves Snap storage servers

The storage hardware maker will announce a new file storage system falling into the midrange of the company's Snap line.

Storage hardware maker Quantum will announce a new file storage system Oct. 15 falling into the midrange of the company's Snap line, but much of the company's attention is focused on two other new product directions.

The new Snap Server 2200 will sell for $1,499 and has 160GB of capacity, said product manager Jim Sherhart. The system is an example of the network-attached storage (NAS) category, storage systems that plug into networks for sharing or backing up files.

The company, though, is focused more on two other initiatives, said Vicki Vollmar, director of product marketing. First is the $15,000 Snap Server 12000, which extends the Quantum product line to a higher-end set of customers. And in the longer term, the company is building into its products software from Connex, a former Western Digital subsidiary that Quantum acquired in August for $11 million in cash.

The 12000, with about 750GB of capacity and the ability to transfer files over 1-gigabit-per-second networks, is the highest-end system from Quantum to date. Administrators can swap out hard drives, power supplies and fans without having to shut down the system. Quantum is selling support services for the product.

Though the 12000 is the company's most powerful system to date, it doesn't compete with more powerful systems such as those from Network Appliance that cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Like many storage companies, Quantum now is focusing on software. The now-discontinued NAS systems from Connex used the Linux operating system, and Quantum will use this operating system for its future higher-end systems, Vollmar said.

The company selected Linux because it can tap into a larger group of developers working on the operating system and because it will be easier to add high-end features, she said. One such feature is "failover," in which a system takes over when a comrade in the same group crashes. Another is the "snapshot" ability that lets an administrator record the state of a system and backtrack to it in case of trouble such as viruses or corrupted data.

The Snap division, which Quantum once had hoped to spin off into an independent company, is a relatively small part of the storage company. But network-attached storage is a significant market. Dataquest estimates that the 29,000 terabytes of capacity shipped in 2001 will increase to 884,000 in 2005, with sales of about $18 billion.