Overland Unveils iSCSI Disk Backup Family, Road Map

The products, which follow a similar appliance unveiled early last month, were shown for the first time to solution providers at the company's annual partner summit, held on a cruise ship near Miami Sept. 6 and 7.

The San Diego-based company demonstrated its RA2000 backup server acceleration appliance and its RX2000 expansion module based on technology it received as part its late June acquisition of Okapi Software. The models are slated to ship later this month.

The products join the R2000 network backup accelerator to form the company's REO family of disk-based backup appliances based on the iSCSI standard and using new Serial ATA (SATA) hard drives.

The RA2000 is a 2U-high, eight-drive appliance that sits between a company's backup servers and the tape backup autoloader or library. Up to eight servers can back up data to the RA2000, which then backs up the consolidated files to the tape device.

Sponsored post

The RA2000 can then either store the data for use in high-speed data recovery or flush the data to accept other backup jobs, said John Cloyd, vice president and general manager at Overland.

The R2000 is similar to the RA2000, except it sits between application servers and backup servers, said Cloyd. The R2000 is aimed accelerating the backup of application-specific data, while the RA2000 can take backup data from multiple sources.

Multiple RX2000 expansion modules increase the amount of data that can be backed up by the R2000 and RA2000 by an additional 2 Tbytes. And rather than decreasing performance by adding additional capacity, each RX2000 actually adds an extra 100 Mbytes per second of bandwidth, Cloyd said.

While it is possible to build such a device based on a white-box PC with a few hard drives and iSCSI technology, the key to the REO's performance is in the software, said Cloyd. "Our software allows multithreaded iSCSI management optimized for backups and restore, a custom traffic manager to ensure the proper quality of service, and attach and detach capabilities so multiple iSCSI initiators can access the same target," he said.

The REO appliances, which currently support Microsoft Windows environments, are expected to support Solaris, Linux, AIX and NetWare by December, Cloyd said. At the same time, capacity per unit will be increased to 4 Tbytes and 6 Tbytes, he said.

Next April, Overland also expects to introduce an iSCSI-to-iSCSI bridge which will allow tape backups to be done over longer distances over IP networks, said Cloyd.

John Matze, vice president and CTO of Overland and former president and CEO of Okapi Software, which developed the REO series and was acquired earlier this year by Overland, said the iSCSI bridge will have two Gigabit Ethernet ports on front and two SCSI ports on back. This will allow multiple libraries to be connected to the appliance, he said. He also expects it to feature LUN masking so that data can be exported only to the server that owns the data.

Overland also is expected in the near future to introduce versions of the REO appliances configured with less capacity than the 2 Tbytes they now include, said Matze. "For backing up to remote sites, 2 Tbytes is too much capacity," he said. "So if we want to get into that space, we will need a different product."

But increasing capacity is actually more of a priority, said several solution providers.

Disk-based backup devices are selling well because they use a customer's existing infrastructure instead of Fibre Channel, said Brad Wenzel, president and CEO of Wenzel Data, a Stillwater, Minn.-based solution provider.

However, such appliances should be able to scale to up to 10 Tbytes, as that would allow customers to keep up to seven days worth of backup data, assuming 1 Tbyte per day, for fast recovery if they wanted to do so, Wenzel said.

Matze said Overland is also looking into building more iSCSI storage devices for use in primary data storage.

"Our partners are telling us to turn [the REOs] into iSCSI storage," he said. "It's not hard to do. We already have a RAID-5 controller built into the unit. We don't utilize it, as it gets in the way of data acceleration. But it would be great for use as primary storage."

That RAID capability would be useful, as customers who look for terabytes of storage want it protected, said Tim Neary, president of Strategic Storage Solutions, a Plano, Texas-based solution provider. "Turn it on," he said.

Overland's REO appliances will help the company and the channel continue to drive business in the midrange backup market, said Tom Kuni, president of Sales Strategies, a Metuchen, N.J.-based solution provider.

"All the larger enterprise vendors have been putting disk in front of their tape libraries," Kuni said. "The big systems integrators like EDS are also pushing hard down into the midrange. Meanwhile, the CDWs and the Insights are moving up into this space. The REOs focuses on what we've identified as our sweet spot in this space."

John Zammett, president of HorizonTek, a Huntington, N.Y.-based solution provider that sold the R2000 from Okapi before the acquisition, said the entire REO family will help alleviate backup bottlenecks for customers.

"Customers are ready for disk appliances like this," said Zammett. "The question is, are they ready for iSCSI? That part will take some time [to sell to customers]."