All Aboard The Virtual Tape Backup Bandwagon

The past few weeks alone also have seen new virtual tape library (VTL) products from Marlborough, Mass.-based Sepaton; Palo Alto, Calif.-based Data Domain; Fremont, Calif.-based 3PAR; and Melville, N.Y.-based FalconStor Software.

VTLs are disk-based arrays that are configured to look like tape libraries to host servers and to back up software. They allow data to be streamed to hard drives as if it were being stored on LTO or other formats of tape, with all backup and restore operations handled by a customer&'s existing data- protection software.

VTLs extend the capabilities of physical tape libraries with more than high speed, said Kathie Shenton, senior account manager at Select, a Westwood, Mass.-based solution provider.

Data still needs to be archived off-site, either on tape or via a disaster recovery provider, Shenton said. “Tape is portable,” she said.

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Physical tape also is important to ensure that data backed up to virtual tape remains useful, said Benjamin Woo, vice president of sales and marketing at ASI System Integration, a New York-based solution provider.

“A backup is only as good as the last replication,” Woo said. “If you replicate the bad data, you&'re screwed. Some customers do point-in-time replication, but you need multiple copies of the data, plus multiple versions.”

While a VTL is great for expanding the capabilities of physical tape, it still means fewer tapes need to be purchased in the future, said Hayes Drumwright, president of Trace|3, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider.

“With VTL, they can use their budgets and move to the new paradigm—and save money,” Drumwright said. “Tape is the one thing on the budget everyone hates.”

Sepaton, whose name backward spells “no tapes,” last month added its new Site(2) electronic vaulting software to its S2100-ES2 VTL appliance. From a data center, Site(2) automatically replicates data over a WAN to remote locations while keeping that data in its original tape format. The software is priced at $10,000 per site.

Data Domain introduced a VTL option to its DD400 data backup appliance that emulates up to 47 active virtual LTO drives across up to 100,000 virtual cartridges. Pricing starts at $4,000.

3PAR is adding FalconStor software to its Utility Storage scalable tiered-storage array in order to let customers manage online, near-line and off-line storage on a single platform. The combined product will be available to both vendors&' channel partners this quarter.